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; ... . fKS AND TRIBES 

(.;- f.O-irriJKKN INDIA 











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Superintendent, Madras Government Museum ; Correspondant Etranger, 

Socigte' d'Anthropologie de Paris ; Socio Corrispondante, 

Societa Romana di Anthropologia. 



of the Madras Government Museum. 







j^pftANJI (gruel). — An exogamous sept of Padma 
m|||^ Sale. Canji is the word " in use all over India 
for the water, in which rice has been boiled. 
It also forms the usual starch of Indian washermen."* 
As a sept of the Sale weavers, it probably has reference 
to the gruel, or size, which is applied to the warp. 

Chacchadi.— Haddis who do scavenging work, with 
whom other Haddis do not freely intermarry. 

Chadarapu Dhompti (square space marriage offer- 
ing). — A sub-division of Madigas, who, at marriages, 
offer food to the god in a square space. 

Chakala.— See Tsakala. 

Chakkan.— -Recorded in the Madras Census Report, 
1 90 1, as " a Malabar caste of oil-pressers (chakku means 
an oil-mill). Followers of this calling are known also 
as Vattakkadans in South Malabar, and as Vaniyans in 
North Malabar, but the former are the higher in social 
status, the Nayars being polluted by the touch of the 
Vaniyans and Chakkans, but not by that of the 
Vattakkadans. Chakkans and Vaniyans may not enter 
Brahman temples. Their customs and manners are 
similar to those of the Nayars, who will not, however, 

* Yule and Burnell. Hobson-Jobson. 



marry their women." Chakkingalavan appears as a 
synonym for Chakkan. 

Chakkiliyan.— " The Chakkiliyans," Mr. H. A. 
Stuart writes,* "are the leather-workers of the Tamil 
districts, corresponding to the Madigas of the Telugu 
country. The Chakkiliyans appear to be immigrants 
from the Telugu or Canarese districts, for no mention is 
made of this caste either in the early Tamil inscriptions, 
or in early Tamil literature. Moreover, a very large pro- 
portion of the Chakkiliyans speak Telugu and Canarese. 
In social position the Chakkiliyans occupy the lowest 
rank, though there is much dispute on this point between 
them and the Paraiyans. Nominally they are Saivites, 
but in reality devil-worshippers. The avaram plant 
{Cassia auriculata) is held in much veneration by them,t 
and the tali is tied to a branch of it as a preliminary to 
marriage. Girls are not usually married before puberty. 
The bridegroom may be younger than the bride. Their 
widows may remarry. Divorce can be obtained at the 
pleasure of either party on payment of Rs. 1 2-1 2-0 to 
the other in the presence of the local head of the caste. 
Their women are considered to be very beautiful, and it 
is a woman of this caste who is generally selected for the 
coarser form of Sakti worship. They indulge very freely 
in intoxicating liquors, and will eat any flesh, including 
beef, pork, etc. Hence they are called, par excellence, 
the flesh-eaters (Sanskrit shatkuli)." It was noted by 
Sonnerat, in the eighteenth century, J that the Chakkili- 
yans are in more contempt than the Pariahs, because 

• Manual of the North Arcot district. 

t The bark of the avaram plant is one of the most valuable Indian tanning 

% Voyage to the East Indies, 1774 and 1781. 


they use cow leather in making shoes. " The Chucklers 
or cobblers," the Abbe" Dubois writes,* "are considered 
inferiors to the Pariahs all over the peninsula. They are 
more addicted to drunkenness "and debauchery. Their 
orgies take place principally in the evening, and their 
villages resound, far into the night, with the yells and 
quarrels which result from their intoxication. The 
very Pariahs refuse to have anything to do with the 
Chucklers, and do not admit them to any of their feasts." 
In the Madura Manual, 1868, the Chakkiliyans are 
summed up as " dressers of leather, and makers of 
slippers, harness, and other leather articles. They are 
men of drunken and filthy habits, and their morals are 
very bad. Curiously enough, their women are held to 
be of the Padmani kind, i.e., of peculiar beauty of face 
and form, and are also said to be very virtuous. It is 
well known, however, that zamindars and other rich 
men are very fond of intriguing with them, particularly 
in the neighbourhood of Paramagudi, where they live in 
great numbers." There is a Tamil proverb that even a 
Chakkili girl and the ears of the millet are beautiful 
when mature. In the Tanjore district, the Chakkiliyars 
are said t to be " considered to be of the very lowest 
status. In some parts of the district they speak Telugu 
and wear the namam (Vaishnavite sect mark) and are 
apparently immigrants from the Telugu country." 
Though they are Tamil-speaking people, the Chakkili- 
yans, like the Telugu Madigas, have exogamous septs 
called gotra in the north, and kilai in the south. Unlike 
the Madigas, they do not carry out the practice of 
making Basavis (dedicated prostitutes). 

* Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies, 
t Manual of the Tanjore district, 1883. 
II— I B 


The correlation of the most important measurements 
of the Madigas of the Telugu country, and so-called 
Chakkiliyans of the city of Madras, is clearly brought 
out by the following figures : — 

Thirty Fifty 
Madigas. Chakkiliyans. 

cm. cm. 

Stature ... ... ... ... 163*1 162*2 

Cephalic length 18*6 18" 6 

„ breadth ... ... 13*9 13*9 

» index 75* 75* 

Nasal height 4*5 4*6 

„ breadth 3*7 3*6 

„ index ... ... ... 8o*8 78*9 

The Chakkiliyan men in Madras are tattooed not 
only on the forehead, but also with their name, conven- 
tional devices, dancing-girls, etc., on the chest and upper 

It has been noticed as a curious fact that, in the 
Madura district, ''while the men belong to the right- 
hand faction, the women belong to and are most 
energetic supporters of the left. It is even said that, 
during the entire period of a faction riot, the Chakkili 
women keep aloof from their husbands and deny them 
their marital rights." # 

In a very interesting note on the leather industry of 
the Madras Presidency, Mr. A. Chatterton writes as 
follows.t " The position of the Chakkiliyan in the south 
differs greatly from that of the Madiga of the north, and 
many of his privileges are enjoyed by a ' sub-sect' of the 
Pariahs called Vettiyans. These people possess the 
right of removing dead cattle from villages, and in return 

• Manual of the Madura district. 

f Monograph of Tanning and Working in Leather, 1904. 


have to supply leather for agricultural purposes. The 
majority of Chakkiliyans are not tanners, but leather- 
workers, and, instead of getting the hides or skins direct 
from the Vettiyan, they prefer to purchase them ready- 
tanned from traders, who bring them from the large tan- 
ning centres. When the Chuckler starts making shoes 
or sandals, he purchases the leather and skin which he 
requires in the bazar, and, taking it home, first proceeds 
with a preliminary currying operation. The leather is 
damped and well stretched, and dyed with aniline, the 
usual colour being scarlet R.R. of the Badische Anilin 
Soda Fabrik. This is purchased in the bazar in packets, 
and is dissolved in water, to which a little oxalic acid 
has been added. The dye is applied with a piece of rag 
on the grain side, and allowed to dry. After drying, 
tamarind paste is applied to the flesh side of the skin, 
and the latter is then rolled between the hands, so as to 
produce a coarse graining on the outer side. In making 
the shoes, the leather is usually wetted, and moulded 
into shape on wooden moulds or lasts. As a rule, 
nothing but cotton is used for sewing, and the waxed 
ends of the English cobler are entirely unknown. The 
largest consumption of leather in this Presidency is for 
water-bags or kavalais, which are used for raising water 
from wells, and for oil and ghee (clarified butter) pots, in 
which the liquids are transported from one place to 
another. Of irrigation wells there are in the Presidency 
more than 600,000, and, though some of them are fitted 
with iron buckets, nearly all of them have leather bags 
with leather discharging trunks. The buckets hold from 
ten to fifty gallons of water, and are generally made 
from fairly well tanned cow hides, though for very large 
buckets buffalo hides are sometimes used. The number 
of oil and ghee pots in use in the country is very large. 


The use of leather vessels for this purpose is on the 
decline, as it is found much cheaper and more convenient 
to store oil in the ubiquitous kerosine-oil tin, and it is 
not improbable that eventually the industry will die out, 
as it has done in other countries. The range of work 
of the country Chuckler is not very extensive. Besides 
leather straps for wooden sandals, he makes crude 
harness for the ryot's cattle, including leather collars 
from which numerous bells are frequently suspended, 
leather whips for the cattle drivers, ornamental fringes for 
the bull's forehead, bellows for the smith, and small boxes 
for the barber, in which to carry his razors. In some 
places, leather ropes are used for various purposes, and 
it is customary to attach big coir (cocoanut fibre) ropes 
to the bodies of the larger temple cars by leather harness, 
when they are drawn in procession through the streets. 
Drum-heads and tom-toms are made from raw hides by 
Vettiyans and Chucklers. The drums are often very 
large, and are transported upon the back of elephants, 
horses, bulls and camels. For them raw hides are re- 
quired, but for the smaller instruments sheep-skins are 
sufficient. The raw hides are shaved on the flesh side, 
and are then dried. The hair is removed by rubbing 
with wood-ashes. The use of lime in unhairing is not 
permissible, as it materially decreases the elasticity of 
the parchment." The Chakkiliyans beat the tom-tom 
for Kammalans, Pallis and Kaikolans, and for other 
castes if desired to do so. 

The Chakkiliyans do not worship Matangi, who is 
the special deity of the Madigas. Their gods include 
Madurai Viran, Mariamma, Muneswara, Draupadi and 
Gangamma. Of these, the last is the most important, 
and her festival is celebrated annually, if possible. To 
cover the expenses thereof, a few Chakkiliyans dress up 


so as to represent men and women of the Marathi bird- 
catching caste, and go about begging in the streets for 
nine days. On the tenth day the festival terminates. 
Throughout it, Gangamma, represented by three deco- 
rated pots under a small pandal (booth) set up on the 
bank of a river or tank beneath a margosa (Melia 
azadirachta), or pipal (Ficus reli%iosa) tree, is worshipped. 
On the last day, goats and fowls are sacrificed, and 
limes cut. 

During the first menstrual period, the Chakkiliyan 
girl is kept under pollution in a hut made of fresh green 
boughs, which is erected by her husband or maternal 
uncle. Meat, curds, and milk are forbidden. On the last 
day, the hut is burnt down. At marriages a Chakkiliyan 
usually officiates as priest, or the services of a Valluvan 
priest may be enlisted. The consent of the girl's mater- 
nal uncle to the marriage is essential. The marriage 
ceremony closely resembles that of the Paraiyans. And, 
at the final death ceremonies of a Chakkiliyan, as of a 
Paraiyan, two bricks are worshipped, and thrown into a 
tank or stream. 

Lean children, especially of the Mala, Madiga, and 
Chakkiliyan classes, are made to wear a leather strap, 
specially made for them by a Chakkiliyan, which is 
believed to help their growth. 

At times of census, some Chakkiliyans have returned 
themselves as Pagadaiyar, Madari (conceit or arrogance), 
and Ranaviran (brave warrior). 

Chakkiyar. — The Chakkiyars are a class of Ambala- 
vasis, of whom the following account is given in the 
Travancore Census Report, 1901. The name is gener- 
ally derived from Slaghyavakkukar (those with eloquent 
words), and refers to the traditional function of the caste 
in Malabar society. According to the Jatinirnaya, the 


Chakkiyars represent a caste growth of the Kaliyuga. 
The offence to which the first Chakkiyar owes his posi- 
tion in society was, it would appear, brought to light 
after the due performance of the upanayanasamskara. 
Persons, in respect of whom the lapse was detected 
before that spiritualizing ceremony took place, became 
Nambiyars. Manu derives Suta, whose functions are 
identical with the Malabar Chakkiyar, from a pratiloma 
union, i.e., of a Brahman wife with a Kshatriya husband.* 
The girls either marry into their own caste, or enter 
into the sambandham form of alliance with Nambutiris. 
They are called Illottammamar. Their jewelry resem- 
bles that of the Nambutiris. The Chakkiyar may choose 
a wife for sambandham from among the Nambiyars. 
They are their own priests, but the Brahmans do the 
purification (punyaham) of house and person after birth 
or death pollution. The pollution itself lasts for eleven 
days. The number of times the Gayatri (hymn) may 
be repeated is ten. 

The traditional occupation of the Chakkiyans is 
the recitation of Puranic stories. The accounts of the 
Avataras have been considered the highest form of 
scripture of the non-Brahmanical classes, and the early 
Brahmans utilised the intervals of their Vedic rites, i.e., 
the afternoons, for listening to their recitation by castes 
who could afford the leisure to study and narrate them. 
Special adaptations for this purpose have been composed 
by writers like Narayana Bhattapada, generally known 
as the Bhattatirippat, among whose works Dutavakya, 
Panchalisvayamvara, Subhadrahana and Kaunteyashtaka 
are the most popular. In addition to these, standard 
works like Bhogachampu and Mahanataka are often 

• Pratiloma, as opposed to an anuloma union, is the marriage of a female of 
a higher caste with a man of a lower one. 


pressed into the Chakkiyar's service. Numerous upa- 
kathas or episodes are brought in by way of illustration, 
and the marvellous flow of words, and the telling humour 
of the utterances, keep the audience spell-bound. On 
the utsavam programme of every important temple, 
especially in North Travancore, the Chakkiyarkuttu 
(Chakkiyar's performance) is an essential item. A 
special building, known as kuttampalam, is intended for 
this purpose. Here the Chakkiyar instructs and regales 
his hearers, antiquely dressed, and seated on a three- 
legged stool. He wears a peculiar turban with golden 
rim and silk embossments. A long piece of cloth with 
coloured edges, wrapped round the loins in innumerable 
vertical folds with an elaborateness of detail difficult to 
describe, is the Chakkiyar's distinctive apparel. Behind 
him stands the Nambiyar, whose traditional kinship with 
the Chakkiyar has been referred to, with a big jar-shaped 
metal drum in front of him called milavu, whose bass 
sound resembles the echo of distant thunder. The 
Nambiyar is indispensable for the Chakkiyarkuttu, and 
sounds his mighty instrument at the beginning, at the 
end, and also during the course of his recitation, when 
the Chakkiyar arrives at the middle and end of a 
Sanskrit verse. The Nangayar, a female of the Nambi- 
yar caste, is another indispensable element, and sits in 
front of the Chakkiyar with a cymbal in hand, which 
she sounds occasionally. It is interesting to note that, 
amidst all the boisterous merriment into which the 
audience may be thrown, there is one person who has to 
sit motionless like a statue. If the Nangayar is moved 
to a smile, the kuttu must stop, and there are cases 
where, in certain temples, the kuttu has thus become a 
thing of the past. The Chakkiyar often makes a feint 
of representing some of his audience as his characters 


for the scene under depictment. But he does it in such 
a genteel way that rarely is offence taken. It is an 
unwritten canon of Chakkiyarkuttu that the performance 
should stop at once if any of the audience so treated 
should speak out in answer to the Chakkiyar, who, it 
may be added, would stare at an admiring listener, and 
thrust questions on him with such directness and force 
as to need an extraordinary effort to resist a reply. And 
so realistic is his performance that a tragic instance is 
said to have occurred when, by a cruel irony of fate, his 
superb skill cost a Chakkiyar his life. While he was 
explaining a portion of the Mahabharata with inimitable 
theatrical effect, a desperate friend of the Pandavas 
rose from his seat in a fit of uncontrollable passion, 
and actually knocked the Chakkiyar dead when, 
in an attitude of unmistakable though assumed heart- 
lessness, he, as personating Duryodhana, inhumanely 
refused to allow even a pin-point of ground to his 
exiled cousins. This, it is believed, occurred in a 
private house, and thereafter kuttu was prohibited except 
at temples. 

It is noted, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that 
" Chakkiyars or Slaghyar-vakukar are a caste following 
makkattayam (inheritance from father to son), and wear 
the punul (thread). They are recruited from girls born 
to a Nambudiri woman found guilty of adultery, after 
the date at which such adultery is found to have 
commenced, and boys of similar origin, who have been 
already invested with the sacred thread. Boys who have 
not been invested with the punul when' their mother is 
declared an adulteress, join the class known as Chakkiyar 
Nambiyars, who follow marumakkattayam (inheritance 
in the female line), and do not wear the thread. The 
girls join either caste indifferently. Chakkiyars may 


marry Nangiyars, but Chakkiyar Nambiyars may not 
marry Illotammamar." 

Chaliyan.— The Chaliyans are a caste of Malayalam 
cotton weavers, concerning whom Mr. Francis writes as 
follows*: — " In dress and manners they resemble the 
artisan castes of Malabar, but, like the Pattar Brahmans, 
they live in streets, which fact probably points to their 
being comparatively recent settlers from the east coast. 
They have their own barbers called Potuvans, who are 
also their purohits. They do not wear the sacred 
thread, as the Sale weavers of the east coast do. They 
practise ancestor worship, but without the assistance of 
Brahman priests. This is the only Malabar caste which 
has anything to do with the right and left-hand faction 
disputes, and both divisions are represented in it, the 
left hand being considered the superior. Apparently, 
therefore, it settled in Malabar some time after the 
beginnings of this dispute on the east coast, that is, 
after the eleventh century A. D. Some of them follow 
the marumakkatayam and others the makkatayam law 
of inheritance, which looks as if the former were earlier 
settlers than the latter." 

The Chaliyans are so called because, unlike most of 
the west coast classes, they live in streets, and Teruvan 
(teru, a street) occurs as a synonym for the caste name. 
The right-hand section are said to worship the elephant 
god Ganesa, and the left Bhagavati. 

The following account of the Chaliyans is given in 
the Gazetteer of the Malabar district : " Chaliyans are 
almost certainly a class of immigrants from the east 
coast. They live in regular streets, a circumstance 
strongly supporting this view. The traditional account 

* Madras Census Report, 1901. 


is to the same effect. It is said that they were originally 
of a high caste, and were imported by one of the 
Zamorins, who wished to introduce the worship of 
Ganapathi, to which they are much addicted. The 
latter's minister, the Mangatt Acchan, who was entrusted 
with the entertainment of the new arrivals, and was 
nettled by their fastidiousness and constant complaints 
about his catering, managed to degrade them in a body 
by the trick of secretly mixing fish with their food. 
They do not, like their counterparts on the east coast, 
wear the thread ; but it is noticeable that their priests, 
who belong to their own caste, wear it over the right 
shoulder instead of over the left like the Brahman's 
punul, when performing certain pujas (worship). In 
some parts, the place of the regular punul is taken by a 
red scarf or sash worn in the same manner. They are 
remarkable for being the only caste in Malabar amongst 
whom any trace of the familiar east coast division into 
right-hand and left-hand factions is to be found. They 
are so divided ; and those belonging to the right-hand 
faction deem themselves polluted by the touch of those 
belonging to the left-hand sect, which is numerically 
very weak. They are much addicted to devil-dancing, 
which rite is performed by certain of their numbers 
called Komarams in honour of Bhagavathi and the 
minor deities Vettekkorumagan and Gulikan (a demon). 
They appear to follow makkatayam (descent from father 
to son) in some places, and marumakkatayam (inherit- 
ance in the female line) in others. Their pollution 
period is ten days, and their purification is performed by 
the Talikunnavan (sprinkler), who belongs to a some- 
what degraded section of the caste." 

The affairs of the caste are managed by headmen 
called Uralans, and the caste barber, or Pothuvan, acts as 


the caste messenger. Council meetings are held at the 
village temple, and the fines inflicted on guilty persons 
are spent in celebrating puja (worship) thereat. 

When a girl reaches puberty, the elderly females of 
Uralan families take her to a tank, and pour water over 
her head from small cups made of the leaves of the jak 
(Artocarpus integrifolia) tree. She is made to sit apart 
on a mat in a room decorated with young cocoanut 
leaves. Round the mat raw rice and paddy (unhusked 
rice) are spread, and a vessel containing cocoanut flowers 
and cocoanuts is placed near her. On the third evening, 
the washerman (Peruvannan) brings some newly- washed 
cloths (mattu). He is presented with some rice and 
paddy, which he ties up in a leaf, and does puja. He 
then places the cloths on a plank, which he puts on his 
head. After repeating some songs or verses, he sets it 
down on the floor. Some of the girl's female relations 
take a lighted lamp, a pot of water, a measure of rice, and 
go three times round the plank. On the following day, 
the girl is bathed, and the various articles which have 
been kept in her room are thrown into a river or tank. 

Like many other Malabar castes, the Chaliyans per- 
form the tali kettu ceremony. Once in several years, 
the girls of the village who have to go through this 
ceremony are brought to the house of one of the 
Uralans, where a pandal (booth) has been set up. 
Therein a plank, made of the wood of the pala tree 
(Alstonia scholaris), a lighted lamp, betel leaves and 
nuts, a measure of raw rice, etc., are placed. The girl 
takes her seat on the plank, holding in her right hand a 
mimic arrow (shanthulkol). The Pothuvan, who re- 
ceives a fanam (coin) and three bundles of betel leaves 
for his services, hands the tali to a male member of an 
Uralan family, who ties it on the girl's neck. 


On the day before the wedding-day the bridegroom, 
accompanied by his male relations, proceeds to the 
house of the bride, where a feast is held. On the 
following day the bride is bathed, and made to stand 
before a lighted lamp placed on the floor. The bride- 
groom's father or uncle places two gold fanams (coins) 
in her hands, and a further feast takes place. 

In the seventh month of pregnancy, the ceremony 
called puli kudi (or drinking tamarind) is performed. 
The woman's brother brings a twig of a tamarind tree, 
and, after the leaves have been removed, plants it in the 
yard of the house. The juice is extracted from the 
leaves, and mixed with the juice of seven cocoanuts. 
The elderly female relations of the woman give her a 
little of the mixture. The ceremony is repeated during 
three days. Birth pollution is removed by a barber 
woman sprinkling water on the ninth day. 

The dead are buried. The son carries a pot of 
water to the grave, round which he takes it three times. 
The barber makes a hole in the pot, which is then 
thrown down at the head of the grave. The barber also 
tears off a piece of the cloth, in which the corpse is 
wrapped. This is, on the tenth day, taken by the son 
and barber to the sea or a tank, and thrown into it. 
Three stones are set up over the grave. 

Chaliyan also occurs as an occupational title or sub- 
division of Nayars, and Chaliannaya as an exogamous 
sept of Bant. In the Madras Census Report, 1901, 
Chaliyan is given as a sub-caste of Vaniyan (oil- 
pressers). Some Chaliyans are, however, oilmongers 
by profession. 

Challa. — Challa, meaning apparently eaters of refuse, 
occurs as a sub-division of Yanadis, and meaning butter- 
milk as an exogamous sept of Devanga. Challakuti, 


meaning those who eat old or cold food, is an exo- 
gamous sept of Kapus. 

Chamar.— Nearly three hundred members of this 
Bengal caste of tanners and workers in leather were 
returned at the census, 1901. The equivalent Chamura 
occurs as the name of leather-workers from the Central 

Chandala.— At the census, 1901, more than a 
thousand individuals returned themselves as Chandala, 
which is defined as a generic term, meaning one who 
pollutes, to many low castes. "It is," Surgeon- Major 
W. R. Cornish writes,* " characteristic of the Brahma- 
nical intolerance of the compilers of the code that the 
origin of the lowest caste of all (the Chandala) should 
be ascribed to the intercourse of a Sudra man and a 
Brahman woman, while the union of a Brahman male 
with a Sudra woman is said toi have resulted in one of 
the highest of the mixed classes." By Manu it was laid 
down that " the abode of the Chandala and Swapaca must 
be^out of the town. They must not have the use of entire 
vessels. Their sole wealth must be dogs and asses. 
Their clothes must be the mantles of the deceased ; 
their dishes for food broken pots ; their ornaments rusty 
iron ; continually must they roam from place to place. 
Let no man who regards his duty, religious and civil, 
hold any intercourse with them, and let food be given to 
them in potsherds, but not by the hand of the giver." 

Chandra (moon). — An exogamous sept of Kuruba. 
The name Chandravamsapu (moon people) is taken by 
some Razus, who claim to be Kshatriyas, and to be 
descended from the lunar race of kings of the Maha- 

* Madras Census Report, 1871. 


Chanipoyina (those who are dead). — An exogamous 
sept of Orugunta Kapu. 

Chapa (mat). — An exogamous sept of Boya. 

Chappadi (insipid). — An exogamous sept of Jogi. 

Chapparam (a pandal or booth). — An exogamous 
sept of Devanga. 

Chappar band.— The Chapparbands are manufac- 
turers of spurious coin, who hail from the Bombay 
Presidency, and are watched for by the police. It is 
noted, in the Police Report, 1904, that good work was 
done in Ganjam in tracing certain gangs of these coiners, 
and bringing them to conviction. 

For the following note I am indebted to a report * 
by Mr. H. N. Alexander of the Bombay Police Depart- 
ment. The name Chapparband refers to their calling, 
chapa meaning an impression or stamp. " Among 
themselves they are known as Bhadoos, but in Hindu- 
stan, and among Thugs and cheats generally, they are 
known as Khoolsurrya, i.e., false coiners. While in 
their villages, they cultivate the fields, rear poultry and 
breed sheep, while the women make quilts, which the 
men sell while on their tours. But the real business of 
this class is to make and pass off false coin. Laying 
aside their ordinary Muhammadan dress, they assume 
the dress and appearance of fakirs of the Muddar section, 
Muddar being their Pir, and, unaccompanied by their 
women, wander from village to village. Marathi is their 
language, and, in addition, they have a peculiar slang of 
their own. Like all people of this class, they are super- 
stitious, and will not proceed on an expedition unless a 
favourable omen is obtained. The following account is 
given, showing how the false coin is manufactured. A 

* Madras Police Gazette, 1902. 


mould serves only once, a new one being required for 
every rupee or other coin. It is made of unslaked lime 
and a kind of yellow earth called shedoo, finely powdered 
and sifted, and patiently kneaded with water to about 
the consistency of putty. One of the coins to be 
imitated is then pressed with some of the preparation, 
and covered over, and, being cut all round, is placed in 
some embers. After becoming hardened, it is carefully 
laid open with a knife, and, the coin being taken out, its 
impression remains. The upper and lower pieces are 
then joined together with a kind of gum, and, a small 
hole being made on one side, molten tin is poured in, 
and thus an imitation of the coin is obtained, and it only 
remains to rub it over with dirt to give it the appear- 
ance of old money. The tin is purchased in any bazaar, 
and the false money is prepared on the road as the 
gang travels along. Chapparbands adopt several ways 
of getting rid of their false coin. They enter shops 
and make purchases, showing true rupees in the first 
instance, and substituting false ones at the time of 
payment. They change false rupees for copper money, 
and also in exchange for good rupees of other currencies. 
Naturally, they look out for women and simple people, 
though the manner of passing off the base coin is clever, 
being done by sleight of hand. The false money is kept 
in pockets formed within the folds of their langutis (loin- 
cloths), and also hidden in the private parts." 

The following additional information concerning 
Chapparbands is contained in the Illustrated Criminal 
Investigation and Law Digest * : — " They travel generally 
in small gangs, and their women never follow them. 
They consult omens before leaving their villages. They 

* I. No. 4. 1908, Vellore. 
1 1-2 


do not leave their villages dressed as fakirs. They 
generally visit some place far away from their residence, 
and there disguise themselves as Madari fakirs, adding 
Shah to their names. They also add the title Sahib, 
and imitate the Sawals, a sing-song begging tone of 
their class. Their leader, Khagda, is implicitly obeyed. 
He is the treasurer of the gangs, and keeps with him 
the instruments used in coining, and the necessary metal 
pieces. But the leader rarely keeps the coins with him. 
The duty of passing the false coins belongs to the 
Bhondars. A boy generally accompanies a gang. He 
is called Handiwal. He acts as a handy chokra 
(youngster), and also as a watch over the camp when 
the false coins are being prepared. They generally 
camp on high ground in close vicinity to water, which 
serves to receive the false coins and implements, should 
danger be apprehended. When moving from one camp 
to another, the Khagda and his chokra travel alone, the 
former generally riding a small pony. The rest of the 
gang keep busy passing the coins in the neighbourhood, 
and eventually join the pair in the place pre-arranged. 
If the place be found inconvenient for their purpose, 
another is selected by the Khagda, but sufficient indica- 
tion is given to the rest that the rendezvous might be 
found out. This is done by making a mark on the chief 
pathway leading to the place settled first, at a spot 
where another pathway leads from it in the direction he 
is going. The mark consists of a mud heap on the side 
of the road, a foot in length, six inches in breadth, and 
six in height, with an arrow mark pointing in the direc- 
tion taken. The Khagda generally makes three of these 
marks at intervals of a hundred yards, to avoid the 
chance of any being effaced. Moulds are made of 
Multani or some sticky clay. Gopichandan and badap 


are also used. The clay, after being powdered and 
sifted, is mixed with a little water and oil, and well 
kneaded. The two halves of the mould are then roughly- 
shaped with the hand, and a genuine coin is pressed 
between them, so as to obtain the obverse on one half 
and the reverse impression on the other. The whole is 
then hardened in an extempore oven, and the hole to 
admit the metal is bored, so as to admit of its being 
poured in from the edge. The halves are then separated, 
and the genuine rupee is tilted out ; the molten alloy of 
tin or pewter is poured in, and allowed to cool. Accord- 
ing to the other method, badap clay brought from their 
own country is considered the most suitable for the 
moulds, though Multani clay may be used when they run 
out of badap. Two discs are made from clay kneaded 
with water. These discs are then highly polished on 
the inner surface with the top of a jvari stalk called 
danthal. A rupee, slightly oiled, is then placed between 
the discs, which are firmly pressed over it. The whole 
is then thoroughly hardened in the fire. The alloy used 
in these moulds diners from that used in the others, and 
consists of an alloy of lead and copper. In both cases, 
the milling is done by the hand with a knife or a piece 
of shell. The Chapperbands select their victims care- 
fully. They seem to be fairly clever judges of persons 
from their physiognomy. They easily find out the 
duffer and the gull in both sexes, and take care to avoid 
persons likely to prove too sharp for them. They 
give preference to women over men. The commonest 
method is for the Bhondar to show a quantity of copper 
collected by him in his character of beggar, and ask for 
silver in its place. The dupe produces a rupee, which 
he looks at. He then shakes his head sadly, and hands 
back a counterfeit coin, saying that such coins are not 



current in his country, and moves on to try the same trick 
elsewhere. Their dexterity in changing the rupees is 
very great, the result of long practice when a Handiwal." 
Further information in connection with the Chappar- 
bands has recently been published by Mr. M. Paupa 
Rao Naidu, from whose account * the following extract 
is taken. " Chapperbands, as their name implies, are 
by profession builders of roofs, or, in a more general 
term, builders of huts. They are Sheikh Muhammadans, 
and originally belonged to the Punjab. During the 
Moghul invasion of the Carnatic, as far back as 
1687-88, a large number of them followed the great 
Moghul army as builders of huts for the men. They 
appear to have followed the Moghul army to Aurangabad, 
Ahmednagar, and Seringapatam until the year 1714, 
when Bijapur passed into the hands of the Peshwas. 
The Chapperbands then formed part of the Peshwa's 
army in the same capacity, and remained as such till the 
advent of the British in the year 181 8, when it would 
appear a majority of them, finding their peculiar profes- 
sion not much in demand, returned to the north. A part 
of those who remained behind passed into the Nizam's 
territory, while a part settled down in the Province of 
Talikota. A legendary tale, narrated before the Super- 
intendent of Police, Raipur, in 1904, by an intelligent 
Chapperband, shows that they learnt this art of manu- 
facturing coins during the Moghul period. He said ' In 
the time of the Moghul Empire, Chapperbands settled in 
the Bijapur district. At that time, a fakir named Pir 
Bhai Pir Makhan lived in the same district. One of the 
Chapperbands went to this fakir, and asked him to 
intercede with God, in order that Chapperbands might be 

* Criminal Tribes of India, No. Ill, 1907. 


directed to take up some profession or other. The fakir 
gave the man a rupee, and asked him to take it to his 
house quickly, and not to look backwards as he pro- 
ceeded on his way. As the man ran home, some 
one called him, and he turned round to see who it 
was. When he reached his house, he found the rupee 
had turned into a false one. The man returned to the 
fakir, and complained that the rupee was a false one. 
The fakir was much enraged at the man's account of 
having looked back as he ran, but afterwards said 
that Chapperbands would make a living in future by 
manufacturing false coins. Since that time, Chapper- 
bands have become coiners of false money.' On every 
Sunday, they collect all their false rupees, moulds, and 
other implements, and, placing these in front of them, 
they worship Pir Makhan, also called Pir Madar. They 
sacrifice a fowl to him, take out its eyes and tail, and 
fix them on three thorns of the trees babul, bir, and 
thalmakana ; and, after the worship is over, they throw 
them in the direction in which they intend to start. 
The Chapperbands conceal a large number of rupees in 
the rectum, long misusage often forming a cavity capable 
of containing ten to twenty rupees. So also cavities are 
formed in the mouth below the tongue." 

In a case recorded by Mr. M. Kennedy,* " when a 
Chapperband was arrested on suspicion, on his person 
being examined by the Civil Surgeon, no less than 
seven rupees were found concealed in a cavity in his 
rectum. The Civil Surgeon was of opinion that it must 
have taken some considerable time to form such a cavity." 
A similar case came before the Sessions Judge in South 
Canara a few years ago. 

* Criminal Classes in the Bombay Presidency. 


The following case of swindling, which occurred in 
the Tanjore district, is recorded in the Police Report, 
1903. " A gang of Muhammadans professed to be able 
to duplicate currency notes. The method was to place 
a note with some blank sheets of paper between two 
pieces of glass. The whole was then tied round with 
string and cloth, and smoked over a fire. On opening 
the packet, two notes were found, a second genuine one 
having been surreptitiously introduced. The success of 
the first operations with small notes soon attracted 
clients, some of them wealthy ; and, when the bait had 
had time to work, and some very large notes had been 
submitted for operation, the swindlers declared that 
these large notes took longer to duplicate, and that the 
packet must not be opened for several days. Before 
the time appointed for opening, they disappeared, and 
the notes were naturally not found in the packets. One 
gentleman was fleeced in this way to the value of 
Rs. 4,600." The administration of an enema to a false 
coiner will sometimes bring to light hidden treasure. 

Chaptegara.— The Chaptegaras or Cheptegaras 
are described by Mr. H. A. Stuart* as "carpenters who 
speak Konkani, and are believed to have come from 
the Konkan country. Caste affairs are managed by a 
Gurikar or headman, and the fines collected are paid to 
the Sringeri math. They wear the sacred thread, and 
employ Karadi Brahmans as purohits. Infant marriage 
is practised, and widow marriage is not permitted. The 
dead are burned if means allow ; otherwise they are 
buried. They are Saivites, and worship Durga and 
Ganapati. They eat flesh and drink liquor. Their titles 
are Naik, Shenai, etc." It is noted, in the Madras 

• Manual of the South Canara district. 

23 ChElU 

Census Report, 190T, that Saraswat Brahmans will eat 
with them. Choutagara has been recorded as a corrupt 
form of Chaptegara. 

Charamurti.— A class of Jangams, who go from 
village to village preaching. 

Charodi.— The Charodis have been described * as 
" Canarese carpenters corresponding to the Konkani 
Cheptegaras (or Chaptegaras), and there is very little 
difference in the customs and manners of the two castes, 
except that the former employ Shivalli and Konkanashta 
Brahmans instead of Karadis. Their title is Naika." 
In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Mesta is returned 
as a Konkani-speaking sub-caste of Charodi. 

Chatla (winnow). — An exogamous sept of Madiga. 
Chatla Dhompti occurs as a sub-division of Madigas, 
who, at marriages, place the offering of food, etc. 
(dhompti), in a winnow. 

Chatri. — Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 
1 90 1, as an equivalent of Kshatriya. It occurs also as 
the name of an exogamous sept, meaning umbrella, of 
the Holeyas. 

Chaturakshari. — A sub-division of Satanis, who 
believe in the efficacy of the four syllables Ra-ma-nu-ja. 

Chaudari. — Chaudari, or Chowdari, is recorded as a 
title of Haddi, Kalingi, and Komati. 

Chaya (colour) Kurup. — A class of Kollans in 
Malabar, who work in lacquer. 

Cheli (goat). — An exogamous sept of Bottada and 

Chelu (scorpion). — An exogamous sept of Kuruba. 
The equivalent thelu occurs among the Padma Sales. 

* Manual of the South Canara district. 


Chembadi.— The Chembadis are a Telugu caste, 
the occupations of which are fresh-water fishing, and 
rowing boats or coracles. In fishing, unlike the Besthas 
who use a cast-net, they employ a large drag-net, called 
baithivala, the two ends of which are fastened to poles. 
When a new net is made, it is folded up, and placed on 
the edge of a pond or tank. Mud is spread over it, and 
on it are placed three masses of mud kneaded into a 
conical shape. These represent the God, and cakes, 
called kudumulu, are set before them. A male member 
of the caste, biting one of the cakes and keeping it 
between his teeth, goes round the net, and then drags 
it to the water, in which the conical masses become 
disintegrated. Like the Besthas, they smear a new 
net with the blood of the first fish caught in it, but they 
do not burn a mesh of the net. 

Some Chembadis regard Gurappa Gurunathadu as 
their caste deity, and connect him, for some unknown 
reason, with the jammi tree (Prosopis spicigerd). Jammi 
occurs as the name of a gotra, and some children are 
named Gurappa or Gurunathadu. When such children 
are five, seven, or nine years old, they are taken 
on an auspicious day to a jammi tree and shaved, after 
the tree has been worshipped with offerings of cooked 
food, etc. 

At the betrothal ceremony in this caste, immediately 
after the girl has taken up areca nuts, placed them in her 
lap, and folded them in her cloth, the headman takes up 
the betel leaves and areca nuts (thambulam) before him 
with crossed hands. This ceremony corresponds to the 
thonuku thambulam of the lower classes, e.g., Malas and 
Mangalas. Among the Mangalas and Tsakalas, the 
thambulam is said to be taken up by a Balija Setti. For 
the funeral ceremonies, the Chembadis engage a Dasari 


of their own caste. During their performances, flesh and 
toddy may not be offered to the deceased person. 

Chembian.— A name assumed by some Pallis or 
Vanniyans, who claim that they belong to the Chola 
race, on the supposition that Chembinadu is a synonym 
for Chola. 

Chembillam (chembu, copper). — An exogamous 
section of Mukkuvan. 

Chembotti. — In the Madras Census Report, 1901, 
it is stated that the name Chembotti is derived from 
"chembu, copper, and kotti, he who beats." They 
are coppersmiths in Malabar, who are distinct from 
the Malabar Kammalans. They are supposed to be 
descendants of men who made copper idols for temples, 
and so rank above the Kammalans in social position, 
and about equally with the lower sections of the Nayars. 
The name is also used as an occupational term by 
the Konkan Native Christian coppersmiths. In the 
Cochin and Travancore Census Reports, Chembukotti 
is recorded as an occupational title or sub-caste of 
Nayars who work in copper, chiefly in temples and 
Brahman houses. 

In the Gazetteer of the Malabar district, the Chem- 
bottis are described as copper-workers, whose traditional 
business is the roofing of the Sri-kovil, or inner shrine 
of the temple with that metal. They are said to have 
originally formed part of the Kammalan community. 
" When the great temple at Taliparamba was completed, 
it was purified on a scale of unprecedented grandeur, no 
less than a thousand Brahmans being employed. What 
was their dismay when the ceremony was well forward, 
to see a Chembotti coming from the Sri-kovil, where he 
had been putting finishing touches to the roof. This 
appeared to involve a recommencement of the whole 

chempakaraman 26 

tedious and costly ritual, and the Brahmans gave vent to 
their feelings of despair, when a vision from heaven 
reassured them, and thereafter the Chembottis have 
been raised in the social scale, and are not regarded as 
a polluting caste." 

Chembetti, or Chemmatti, meaning hammer, occurs 
as an exogamous sept of the Telugu Yanadis. 

Chempakaraman. — Recorded, in the Travancore 
Census Report, 1901, as an honorific title of Nayars. 

Chenchu.— The Chenchus or Chentsus are a Telugu- 
speaking jungle tribe inhabiting the hills of the Kurnool 
and Nellore districts. In a letter addressed to the 
Bengal Asiatic Society,* transmitting vocabularies of 
various tribes inhabiting Vizagapatam, by Mr. Newill, 
it is stated that " the Chenchu tribe, whose language 
is almost entirely corrupt Hindi and Urdu with a few 
exceptions from Bengali, affords one more example to 
the many forthcoming of an uncultured aboriginal race 
having abandoned their own tongue." The compiler of 
the Kurnool Manual (1885) remarks that Mr. Newill's 
vocabulary " seems to belong to the dialect spoken by 
Lambadis, who sometimes wander about the hills, and 
it is not unlikely that he was misled as to the character 
of the persons from whom his list was taken." As 
examples of the words given by Mr. Newill, the 
following may be quoted : — 

Bone, had. One, yek. 

Cat, billeyi. Ten, das. 

Ear, kan. Far, dur. 

Elephant, hate. Drink, pi. 

Tiger, bag. Sweet, mitha. 

It is probable that Mr. Newill confused the Chenchus 
with the Bonthuk Savaras (q.v.) who speak corrupt 

* Journal Asiatic Society, XXV, 1857. 


Oriya, and are called Chenchu vandlu, and, like the 
Chenchus, believe that the god Narasimha of Ahobilam 
married a girl belonging to their tribe. As a further 
example of the confusion concerning the Chenchus, I 
may quote the remarks of Buchanan * about the Irulas, 
who are a Tamil-speaking jungle tribe : " In this hilly 
tract there is a race of men called by the other natives 
Cad Eriligaru, but who call themselves Cat Chensu. 
The language of the Chensu is a dialect of the Tamil, 
with occasionally a few Karnata or Telinga words inter- 
mixed, but their accent is so different from that of 
Madras that my servants did not at first understand 
what they said. Their original country, they say, is the 
Animalaya forest below the ghats, which is confirmed 
by their dialect." In the Census Report, 1901, Chenchu 
is said to be the name by which Irulas of North Arcot 
and the Mysore plateau are called sometimes, and, in 
the Census Report, 1891, Chenchu is given as a sub- 
division of the Yanadis. There can be little doubt that 
the Chenchus and Yanadis are descended from the 
same original stock. Mackenzie, in the local records 
collected by him, speaks of the Chenchus as being 
called Yanadi Chenchus. The Chenchus themselves 
at the present day say that they and the Yanadis are 
one and the same, and that the tribes intermarry. 

In Scott's ' Ferishta,' the Chenchus are described as 
they appeared before Prince Muhammad Masum, a son 
of Aurangzib, who passed through the Kurnool district 
in 1694, as "exceedingly black, with long hair, and on 
their heads wore caps made of the leaves of trees. 
Each man had with him unbarbed arrows and a bow for 
hunting. They molest no one, and live in caverns or 

* Journey through Mysore, Canara, and Malabar. 


under the shady branches of trees. The prince presen- 
ted some of them with gold and silver, but they did not 
seem to put any value on either, being quite unconcerned 
at receiving it. Upon the firing of a gun, they darted 
up the mountains with a surprising swiftness uncommon 
to man. In Taylor's ' Catalogue raisonne of Oriental 
Manuscripts,' the Chenchus are described as people who 
" live to the westward of Ahobalam, Srisailam, and other 
places, in the woods or wilds, and go about, constantly 
carrying in their hands bows and arrows. They clothe 
themselves with leaves, and live on the sago or rice of 
the bamboo. They rob travellers, killing them if they 
oppose. This people afflict every living creature (kill 
for food is supposed to be meant)." It is noted in the 
Kurnool Manual that in former times the Chenchu 
headman used to "dispose of murder cases, the murderer, 
on proof of guilt, being put to death with the same 
weapons with which the murder was committed.* 
Captain Newbold, writing in 1846, says that, passing 
through the jungle near Pacharla, he observed a skull 
bleached by the sun dangling from the branch of a 
tamarind tree, which he was informed was that of a mur- 
derer and hill-robber put to death by the headman. In 
the time of the Nabobs, some of the Chenchu murderers 
were caught and punished, but the practice seems to 
have prevailed among them more or less till the intro- 
duction of the new police in i860, since which time all 
cases are said to be reported to the nearest police 

A Chenchu Taliari (village watchman), who came to 
see me at Nandyal, was wearing a badge with his name 
engraved on it in Telugu, which had been presented to 

* Journal Royal Asiatic Society, VIII, 1846. 




him by Government in recognition of his shooting with 
a double-barrelled gun two Donga Oddes who had rob- 
bed a village. Another aged Taliari had a silver bangle 
bearing a Telugu inscription, which had been given 
to him in acknowledgment of his capturing a murderer 
who was wanted by the police, and came to his hut. 
The casual visitor explained that he was on his way 
to Hyderabad, but the Chenchu, noticing blood on his 
clothes, tied him to a post, and gave information that he 
had secured him. The same man had also received 
presents for reporting cases of illicit distillation under 
the Abkari Act. 

In recent accounts of the Chenchus of the Nalla- 
malai hills by a forest officer, it is noted that pilgrims, 
on their way to the Srisailam temple, " are exploited at 
every turn, the Chentzu being seen in his true colours at 
this period, and, being among the most active agents 
in the exactions, but not being by any means the only 
plunderer. In return for the protection, the Chentzu 
levies a toll per head, and as much more as he can extort. 
We had to interfere with the perquisites of one drugged 
specimen of this race, who drew a knife on a peon 
(orderly), and had to be sent down under escort . . . 
It is commonly supposed that the Chentzus are a semi- 
wild, innocent, inoffensive hill tribe, living on roots, 
honey, wild fruits, and game. If this was so, we should 
have no difficulty in controlling them. They are actually 
a semi-wild, lazy, drinking set of brigands. They levy 
blackmail from every village along the foot of the hills, 
and, if any ryot (cultivator) refuses to pay up, his crop 
silently disappears on some moonless night. They levy 
blackmail from every pilgrim to the shrines in the hills. 
They levy blackmail from the graziers in the hills. They 
borrow money from Kcmatis and Buniahs (merchants 


and money-lenders), and repay it in kind — stolen timber, 
minor forest produce, etc. They are constantly in debt 
to the Komatis, and are practically their slaves as 
regards the supply of timber and other forest produce. 
They think nothing of felling a tree in order to collect 
its fruits, and they fire miles of forest in order to be able 
to collect with ease certain minor produce, or to trace 
game. They poison the streams throughout the hills, 
and in short do exactly as they please throughout the 
length and breadth of the Nallamalais." The Conser- 
vator of Forests expressed his belief that this picture 
was not overdrawn, and added that the Chenchus are 
" a danger to the forest in many ways, and I have always 
thought it a pity that they were given some of the 
rights at settlement, which stand against their names. 
These rights were — 

(1) Rights of way, and to carry torches. 

(2) Rights to draw and drink water from, wash or bathe in all 

streams, springs, wells and pools. 

(3) Rights to forest produce for home use. 

(4) Rights to fish and shoot. 

(5) Rights to graze a limited number of cattle, sheep and 


(6) Rights to collect for sale or barter certain minor produce. 

In connection with right (3), the District Forest 
Officer suggested that " the quantity to be taken annually 
must be limited, especially in the case of wood, bamboos, 
fibre, firewood and honey. The quality of the wood and 
of other forest produce should be defined. Chenchus 
do not require teak or ebony beams or yegi (Pterocarpus 
Marsupium) spokes and felloes for domestic purposes ; 
but, as the right now stands, they can fell whatever 
they like, and, though we may know it is for sale to 
merchants, the Chenchus have only to say it is for 
domestic use, and they cannot be punished. The wood 


should be limited to poles and smaller pieces of third- 
class and unclassified trees." 

In 1898 the Governor in Council made the follow- 
ing rules for regulating the exercise of the rights 
of the Chenchus living in the reserved forests on the 
Nallamalais : — 

1. The carrying of torches, and the lighting of 
fires in fire-protected blocks during the fire season are 

2. There shall be no right to wash or bathe in 
such springs, wells, pools or portions of streams as are 
especially set apart for drinking purposes by the District 
Forest Officer. 

3. No more than the quantity which the Collector 
may consider to be actually required for domestic use 
shall be removed in the exercise of the right to take 
wood, bamboos, fibre, thatching grass, firewood, roots, 
fruits, honey and other forest produce. The term 
" other forest produce " shall be taken to mean other 
minor forest produce, not including tusks and horns. 
No wood other than poles and smaller pieces of third 
class and unclassified trees shall be removed. 

4. No gudem (Chenchu village) shall, without the 
special permission of the Collector, be allowed to keep a 
larger number of guns than that for which licenses had 
been taken out at the time of settlement. Every gun 
covered by a license shall be stamped with a distinctive 
mark or number. The use of poison and explosives in 
water, and the setting of cruives or fixed engines, or 
snares for the capture or destruction of fish, are strictly 

5. For purposes of re-generation, a portion of the 
area set apart for the grazing of cattle, not exceeding 
one-fifth, may be closed to grazing at any time, and 


for such length of time as the District Forest Officer 
deems fit. 

6. The right of pre-emption of all minor forest 
produce collected by the Chenchus for sale or barter 
shall be reserved to the Forest department. The 
exercise of the right of collecting wood and other pro- 
duce for domestic use, and of collecting minor produce 
for sale or barter, shall be confined to natural growth, 
and shall not include forest produce which is the result 
of special plantation or protection on the part of the 
Forest department. 

In connection with a scheme for dealing with the 
minor forest produce in the Nallamalais, the Conserva- 
tor of Forests wrote as follows in 1905. " I believe 
that it is generally recognised that it is imperative to 
obtain the good-will of the Chenchus even at a consider- 
able loss, both from a political and from a forest point 
of view ; the latter being that, if we do not do so, the 
whole of the Nallamalai forests will, at a not very 
remote date, be utterly destroyed by fire. The Chen- 
chus, being a most abnormal type of men, must be treated 
in an abnormal way ; and the proposals are based, 
therefore, on the fundamental principle of allowing the 
two District Forest Officers a very free hand in dealing 
with these people. What is mainly asked for is to make 
an experiment, of endeavouring to get the Chenchus to 
collect minor produce for the department, the District 
Forest Officers being allowed to fix the remuneration as 
they like, in money or barter, as they may from time to 
time find on the spot to be best." In commenting on 
the scheme, the Board of Revenue stated that " action 
on the lines proposed is justified by the present state of 
the Nallamalais. These valuable forests certainly stand 
in danger of rapid destruction by fire, and, according to 


the local officers, the Chenchus are almost entirely 
responsible. The department has at present no means 
of bringing influence to bear on the Chenchus, or secur- 
ing their assistance in putting out fires. Repressive 
measures will be worse than useless, as the Chenchus 
will merely hide themselves, and do more damage than 
ever. The only way of getting into touch with them is 
to enforce the right of pre-emption in the matter of 
minor produce reserved to Government at the time of 
forest settlement, and by dealing with them in a just 
and generous way to secure their confidence. If this 
is achieved, the department may hope to secure their 
co-operation and valuable assistance in preventing 
jungle fires. The department can certainly afford to 
sell at a profit, and at the same time give the Chenchus 
better prices than the sowcars (money-lenders), who are 
said invariably to cheat them. The Board believes that 
the ultimate loss from advances will not be serious, as 
advances will ordinarily be small in amount, except in 
cases where they may be required by Chenchus to pay 
off sowcars. It will be well, therefore, if the Collector 
and the District Forest Officers will ascertain as soon as 
possible how much the Chenchus are indebted to the 
sowcars, as it will probably be necessary for the success 
of the scheme to liquidate these debts." 

From a note on the Chenchus of the Nallamalai 
hills, I gather that " a striking contrast is afforded 
between those who inhabit the belt of forest stretching: 
from Venkatapuram to Bairnuti, and those who dwell in 
the jungle on the skirts of the great trunk road, which 
formed the chief means of communication between the 
principal towns until the Southern Mahratta railway 
diverted traffic into another channel. In the former 
we behold the Chenchu semi-civilised and clothed. He 


possesses flocks and herds, smiling fields and even gar- 
dens, and evinces an aptitude for barter. The superiority 
of the Bairnuti Chenchu has been brought about by the 
influence, example, labours, and generosity of a single 
Englishman, who built a substantial stone dwelling in 
the depths of the great Bairnuti forest. There also he 
erected indigo vats, and planted indigo, and a grove of 
choice mango grafts, orange and lime trees. He 
bought buffaloes, and by careful selection and breeding 
evolved a magnificent type. These buffaloes have now 
become almost entirely fruit-eaters, and are engaged in 
seeking for and devouring the forest fruits, which — par- 
ticularly the mowhra and forest fig — litter the ground in 
vast quantities. This habit of fruit-eating imparts to 
their milk a peculiarly rich nutty flavour, and the cream 
is of abnormally rich quality. The Chenchus manufac- 
ture this into ghee (clarified butter), which they turn to 
profitable account. The brethren of the Bairnuti Chen- 
chus dwelling in the forest of Pacherla present very 
different conditions of life. They accentuate their naked- 
ness by a narrow bark thread bound round the waist, 
into which are thrust their arrows and knife. This is 
their full dress. The hair, they aver, is the great and 
natural covering of mankind. Why, therefore, violate 
the ordinary laws of nature by inventing supererogatory 
clothing ? A missionary sportsman was fairly non- 
plussed by these arguments, particularly when his 
interlocutors pointed to a celebrated pass or gorge, 
through which the amorous Kristna is averred to have 
pursued and captured a fascinating Chenchu damsel. 
1 You see,' said the Chenchu logician, ' the beauty of her 
form was so manifest in its rude simplicity that even the 
god could not resist it.' En passant it may be noted 
that, when a Chenchu wishes to express superlative 

; 'V- >- : ' :-.. V^\ 




admiration of a belle, he compares her to a monkey. In 
his eyes, the supremest beauty of femininity is agility. 
The girl who can shin up a lofty tree, and bring him 
down fruit to eat is the acme of feminine perfection. ' Ah, 
my sweet monkey girl,' said a demoralised Chenchu, 
who was too idle to climb up a tree himself, ' she has 
been climbing trees all day, and throwing me fruit. 
There is not a man in the forest who can climb like my 
monkey girl.' The Chenchus are wisely employed by 
the authorities as road-police or Taliaris, to prevent 
highway dacoities. This is an astute piece of diplomacy. 
The Chenchus themselves are the only dacoits there- 
abouts, and the salary paid them as road-police is 
virtually blackmail to induce them to guarantee the 
freedom of the forest highways. The Chenchu barters 
the produce of the forests in which he lives, namely, 
honey and wax, deer horns and hides, tamarinds, wood 
apples (Feronia elephantum), and mowhra (Bassia lati- 
folia) fruit and flowers, and realises a very considerable 
income from these sources. He reaps annually a rich 
harvest of hides and horns. The sambur (Cervus uni- 
color) and spotted deer {Cervus axis) shed their horns 
at certain seasons. These horns are hidden in the rank 
luxuriant grass. But, when the heat of the dry weather 
has withered it, the Chenchu applies fire to it by rubbing 
two dried sticks together, and, walking in the wake of 
the flames, picks up the horns disclosed to view by the 
reduction of the vegetation to ashes. He supplements 
this method with his bow and rifle, and by the latter 
means alone obtains his hides. The Chenchu is every 
bit as bad a shot as the average aboriginal. He rarely 
stalks, but, when he does, he makes up by his skill in 
woodcraft for his inexpertness with his gun. He under- 
stands the importance of not giving the deer a slant of 
ii- 3 b 


his wind, and, if they catch a glimpse of him, he will 
stand motionless and black as the tree trunks around. 
The ambush by the salt-lick or water-hole, however, is 
his favourite method of sport. Here, fortified with a 
supply of the pungent-smelling liquor which he illicitly 
distils from the mowhra flower he will lie night and day 
ruthlessly murdering sambur, spotted deer, nilgai (Bose- 
laphus trdgocamelus), four-horned antelope ( Telracerus 
quadricornis). Tigers often stalk down, and drink and 
roll in the pool, but the Chenchu dares not draw a bead 
on him. Perhaps the indifference of his shooting, of 
which he is conscious, deters him." When in danger 
from tigers or leopards, the Chenchus climb a tree, and 
shout. The Chenchus recognise two distinct varieties 
of leopards called chirra puli and chirta puli, concerning 
which Blanford writes as follows.* " Most of the 
sportsmen who have hunted in Central India, and many 
native shikaris (sportsmen) distinguish two forms, and in 
parts of the country there is some appearance of two 
races — a larger form that inhabits the hills and forests, 
and a smaller form commonly occurring in patches of 
grass and bushes amongst cultivated fields and gardens. 
The larger form is said to have a shorter tail, a longer 
head with an occipital crest, and clearly defined spots on 
a paler ground-colour. The smaller form has a com- 
paratively longer tail, a rounder head, less clearly defined 
spots, and rougher fur. I cannot help suspecting that 
the difference is very often due to age." 

A Chenchu who was asked by me whether they kill 
wild beasts replied that they are wild beasts themselves. 
In devouring a feast of mutton provided for those who 
were my guests in camp, they certainly behaved as such, 

• Fauna, British India, Mammalia. 



gnawing at the bones and tearing off the flesh. To the 
Chenchus a feast, on however liberal a scale the food 
may be, is nothing without a copious supply of toddy, of 
which even infants receive a small share. In the absence 
of toddy, they sometimes manufacture illicit liquor from 
the flower-buds of the mahua (or mowhra) tree. The 
man who gained the prize (a coarse cotton cloth) in a 
shooting match with bow and arrow, with the head of a 
straw scarecrow as bull's-eye, was in an advanced stage 
of intoxication, and used his success as an argument 
in favour of drink. In a long distance shooting match, 
the prize was won with a carry of 144 yards, the arrow 
being shot high into the air. It was noted by Captain 
Newbold that the Chenchus are not remarkably expert 
as archers, to judge from the awkwardness they exhibited 
in dispatching an unfortunate sheep picketed for them 
at forty yards, which was held out to them as the prize for 
the best marksman. Some time ago a Chenchu, who 
was the bully of his settlement, beat another Chenchu 
and his wife. The injured man appealed to the District 
Forest Officer, and, explaining that he knew the law did 
not allow him to kill his enemy, applied for a written 
permit to go after him with a bow and arrow. 

Some Chenchus bear on the head a cap made of 
wax-cloth, deer or hare skin. By the more fashionable 
the tufted ear or bushy tail-end of the large Indian 
squirrel (Sciurus Indicus) is attachedly way of ornament 
to the string with which the hair of the head is tied into 
a bunch behind. Leafy garments have been replaced by 
white loin-cloths, and some of the women have adopted 
the ravike (bodice), in imitation of the female costume 
in the plains. Boys, girls, and women wear bracelets 
made of Phoenix or palmyra palm leaves. By some 
pieces of stick strung on a thread, or seeds of Givotia 


rottleriformis, are worn as a charm to ward off various 
forms of pain. Some of the women are tattooed on 
the forehead, corners of the eyes, and arms. And I 
saw a few men tattooed on the shoulder as a cure for 

The huts of which a present day gudem is composed 
are either in the shape of bee-hives like those of the 
Yanadis, or oblong with sloping roof, and situated in a 
grove near a pond or stream. The staple food of the 
Chenchus consists of cereals, supplemented by yams 
(Dioscorea) which are uprooted with a digging-stick 
tipped with iron, forest fruits, and various animals such 
as peacock, crow, lizard (Varanus), bear, and black 
monkey. They are very fond of the young flowers and 
buds of the mahua tree, and tamarind fruits, the acidity of 
which is removed by mixing with them the ashes of the 
bark of the same tree. 

The forest products collected by the Chenchus 
include myrabolams, fruits of the tamarind, Semecarpus 
anacardiilm, Sapindus trifoliatus (soap-nut), Buchanania 
latifolia, Buchanania angustifolia, and Ficus glomerata ; 
roots of Aristolochia Indica and Hemidesmus Indicus ; 
seeds of Abrus precatorius ; flowers of Bassia latifolia ; 
horns, and honey. 

The Chenchus recognise two kinds of bees, large 
and small, and gather honey from nests in trees or 
rocks. It is stated in the Cuddapah Manual that 
" the Yenadis or Chenchus alone are able to climb 
miraculously into difficult and apparently inaccessible 
places, and over perpendicular cliffs in some places 
from a hundred to two hundred feet high. This they 
do by means of a plaited rope made of young bam- 
boos tied together. Accidents sometimes happen by 
the rope giving way. It is a nervous sight to watch 


them climbing up and down this frail support. From 
below the men look like little babies hanging mid- 
way. The rope being fastened on the top of the cliff 
by means of a peg driven into the ground or by a tree, 
the man swings suspended in the air armed with a basket 
and a stick. The Chenchu first burns some brushwood 
or grass under the hive, which is relinquished by most 
of the bees. This accomplished, he swings the rope, 
until it brings him close to the hive, which he pokes with 
his stick, at the same time holding out his basket to 
catch the pieces broken off from the hive. When the 
basket is full, he shakes the rope, and is drawn up 
(generally by his wife's brother). The bamboo ropes 
are never taken away ; nor are they used a second time, 
a fresh one being made on each occasion, and at each 
place. They are to be seen hanging for years, until they 
decay and fall down of themselves." 

Like other Telugu classes, the Chenchus have 
exogamous septs or intiperu, of which the following are 
examples : — gurram (horse), arati (plantain tree), mania 
(trees), tota (garden), mekala (goats), indla (houses), 
savaram (sovereign, gold coin), and gundam (pit). 

Of the marriage customs the following account is 
given in the Kurnool Manual. " The Chenchus do not 
follow a uniform custom in respect to marriage ceremo- 
nies. Their marriage is performed in three ways. A 
man wishing to marry selects his own bride, and both 
retire for one night by mutual consent from the gudem. 
On the following morning, when they return, their 
parents invite their friends and relatives, and by formally 
investing them with new clothes, declare them duly 
married. To complete the ceremony, a meal is given 
to those assembled. The second method is as follows. 
A small space, circular in form, is cleaned and besmeared 


with cowdung. In the centre a bow and arrow tied 
together are fixed in the ground, and the bride and 
bridegroom are made to move round it, when the men 
assembled bless them by throwing some rice over them, 
and the marriage is complete. According to the third 
mode, a Brahmin is consulted by the elders of the family. 
An auspicious day is fixed, and a raised pial (platform) 
is formed, on which the bride and bridegroom being 
seated, a tali (marriage badge) is tied, and rice poured 
over their heads. The services of the Brahmin are 
engaged for three or four days, and are rewarded with a 
piece of new cloth and some money. This ceremony 
resembles that of the ryot (cultivating) class among the 
Hindus. It is evidently a recent Brahminical innovation. 
On marriage occasions generally tom-toms, if available, 
are beaten, and a dance takes place." In the second 
form of marriage, as described to me, the bride and 
bridegroom sit opposite each other with four arrows 
stuck in the ground between them. In Mackenzie's 
record it is stated that the Chenchus make the bridal 
pair sit with a single arrow between them, and, when 
there is no shadow, some elderly men and women throw 
rice over their heads. The importance of the arrow 
with the Chenchus, as with the Yanadis, is that the 
moment when it casts no shadow is the auspicious time 
for the completion of the marriage rite. The remarriage 
of widows is permitted, and the second husband is said 
to be in most cases a brother of the deceased one. 

As an example of the Chenchu songs, the following 
marriage song, sung by two men and a woman, and 
recorded by my phonograph, may be cited : — 
The tali was of avaram * leaves, 
Oh ! the lord of the Chenchus. 

* Cassia aurkulala. 


The bashingham * was made of the leaf of a wild tree, 

Oh ! the lord of the Chenchus. 
Wild turmeric was used for the kankanam f, 

Oh ! the lord of the Chenchus. 
Wearing a garment made of the leaves of the paru tree, 

Oh ! the lord of the Chenchus. 
Wearing a bodice made of the leaves of the pannu tree, 

Oh ! the lord of the Chenchus. 
Roaming over inaccessible hills, 

Oh ! the lord of the Chenchus. 
Wandering through dense forests, 

Oh ! the lord of the Chenchus. 
Committing acts that ought not to be done, 

Oh ! the lord of the Chenchus. 
Obalesa's marriage was celebrated, 

Oh ! the lord of the Chenchus. 
A four-cornered dais was made, 

Oh ! the lord of the Chenchus. 
On the dais arrows were stuck, 

Oh ! the lord of the Chenchus. 
Bamboo rice was used to throw on the heads of the pair, 

Oh ! the lord of the Chenchus. 
Cocoanut cups were stuck on the points of the arrow, 

Oh ! the lord of the Chenchus. 
The marriage was thus celebrated. 

At a dance in my honour, men and women executed 
a series of step dances in time with a drum (thappata) 
resembling a big tambourine, which, at the conclusion 
of each dance, was passed to and fro through a blazing 
fire of cholum straw to bring it up to the proper pitch. 
An elderly hag went through a variety of gesticulations 
like those of a Deva-dasi (dancing-girl). A man dressed 
up in straw and fragments of mats picked up near my 
camp, and another disguised as a woman, with bells 
round his ankles, supplied the comic business. 

* Marriage chaplet worn on the forehead, 
f Wrist-threads dyed with turmeric. 


In the Kurnool Manual it is stated that " as soon as 
a child is born, the umbilical cord is cut (with a knife or 
arrow), and the child is washed in cold or hot water, 
according as the season is hot or cold. On the third 
day, all the women of the tribe are invited, and served 
with betel nut. On the fourth day, an old woman gives 
a name to the child. The baby is generally laid in a 
cradle made of deer skins, and suspended from a bamboo 
by means of strings or dusara creepers." 

The dead are carried to the burial-place in a cloth 
slung on a pole. The body, after it has been laid in the 
grave, is covered over with leafy twigs, and the grave is 
filled in. The spot is marked by a mound of earth and 
stones piled up. On the second or third day, some 
cooked food is offered to the soul of the deceased 
person, near the grave, and, after some of it has been 
set apart for the crows, the remainder is buried in the 
mound or within the grave. The same rite is repeated 
after the eighth day. 

The Chenchus are said # , like the Yanadis, to 
worship a god called Chenchu Devata, to whom offerings 
of honey and fruits are sometimes made. They believe, 
as has been mentioned already, that the god Narasimha 
of Ahobilam, whom they call Obalesudu, carried off a 
beautiful Chenchu girl, named Chenchita, and married 
her. To prevent the occurrence of a similar fate to 
other females of the tribe, Chenchita ordained that they 
should in future be born ugly, and be devoid of personal 
charms. The Chenchus claim Obalesudu as their 
brother-in-law, and, when they go to the temple for the 
annual festival, carry cloths as presents for the god and 
goddess. The legend of their origin is told as follows 

* Madras Census Report, 1891. 



by Captain Newbold. " Previous to the incarnation of 
Sri Krishna in the Dwapara Yug (the third of the great 
ages), the Chenchwars were shepherds of the Yerra 
Golla caste. Obal Iswara, the swami (deity) of Obalam, 
a celebrated hill shrine in the Nalla Mallas, having 
taken away and kept as a Chenchita a maid of the Yerra 
Golla family, begat upon her children, of whom they 
are descendants." Among other minor deities, the 
Chenchus are said to worship Ankalamma, Potu Razu, 
Sunkalamma, Mallamma, and Guruppa. 

In the absence of lucifer matches, the Chenchus 
make fire with flint and steel, and the slightly charred 
floss of the white cotton tree, Eriodendron anfractuosum, 
I am informed that, like the Paniyans of Malabar, they 
also obtain fire by friction, by means of the horizontal or 
sawing method, with two pieces of split bamboo. 

Some Chenchus still exhibit the primitive short 
stature and high nasal index, which are characteristic of 
other jungle tribes such as the Kadirs, Paniyans, and 
Kurumbas. But there is a very conspicuous want of 
uniformity in their physical characters, and many indi- 
viduals are to be met with, above middle height or tall, 
with long narrow noses. A case is noted in the Kurnool 
Manual, in which a brick-maker married a Chenchu girl. 
And I was told of a B6ya man who had married into the 
tribe, and was living in a gudem. In this way is the 
pure type of Chenchu metamorphosed. 

Stature, cm. 

Nasal index. 










By the dolichocephalic type of head which has 
persisted, and which the Chenchus possess in common 



with various other jungle tribes, they are, as shown by 
the following table, at once differentiated from the 
mesaticephalic dwellers in the plains near the foot of the 
Nallamalais : — 



Number of cases 

in which index 

exceeded 80. 

40 Chenchus 



60 Gollas 



50 Boyas 



39 Tota Balijas 



49 Motati Kapus 



19 Upparas 




16 Mangalas 



17 Yerukalas ... 




12 Medaras 



The visual acuity of the Chenchus was tested with 
Cohn's letter E, No. 6. For clinical purposes, the visual 
acuity would be represented by a fraction, of which 6 is 
the denominator, and the number of metres at which the 
position of the letter was recognised by the individual 
tested is the numerator, e.g., 

V.A. — — i- = 2-i6. 

The average distances in metres, at which the letter 
was recognised by the various castes and tribes examined 
by myself and Dr. W. H. R. Rivers, were as follows : — 

1 6 Sholagas (Rivers) 
94 Kotas ... 
180 Badagas 
50 Paraiyans 
58 Telugu ryats 
28 Chenchus 
55 Uralis (Rivers) 
30 Brahmans, Mysore 
30 Non-Brahmans, Mysore 




I 2*4 
I2# 3 



In all classes, it may be noted, the average acuity- 
was between 12 and 13 metres (13 to 14 yards), and 
ranged between V.A. = 2*15 and V.A. = 2*03. The 
maxima distances, at which the position of the letter 
was recognised, were: — Sholaga, 18m; Paraiyan, 19m ; 
Badaga and Dikshitar Brahman, 20m. No cases of 
extraordinary hyper-acuity were met with. The nine 
classes, or groups of classes examined, cover a wide 
range of degrees of civilisation from the wild jungle 
Chenchus, Sholagas, and Uralis, to the cultured Brah- 
man. And, though the jungle man, who has to search 
for his food and mark the tracks and traces of wild 
beasts, undoubtedly possesses a specially trained keen- 
ness of vision for the exigencies of his primitive life, the 
figures show that, as regards ordinary visual acuity, he 
has no advantage over the more highly civilised classes. 

There were, in 1904-05, two Board upper primary 
schools for the Chenchus of the Kurnool district, which 
were attended by seventy-three pupils, who were fed 
and clothed, and supplied with books and slates free of 

Chenu (dry field). — An exogamous sept of Kamma. 

Cheppat.— A sub-division of Maran. 

Cherukara. — Recorded, in the Travancore Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as a sub-division of Nayar. 

Cherukll.— Cheruku (sugar-cane) or Cherukula has 
been recorded as an exogamous sept of Boya, Jogi and 

Cheruman.— The Cherumans or Cherumukkal have 
been defined as a Malayalam caste of agricultural serfs, 
and as members of an inferior caste in Malabar, who 
are, as a rule, toilers attached to the soil. In the 
Madras Census Report, 1891, it is stated that "this 
caste is called Cheruman in South Malabar and Pulayan 


in North Malabar. Even in South Malabar where they 
are called Cheruman, a large sub-division numbering 
over 30,000 is called Pula Cheruman. The most 
important of the sub-divisions returned are Kanakkan, 
Pula Cheruman, Eralan, Kudan and Rolan. Kanakkan 
and Pula Cheruman are found in all the southern taluks, 
Kudan almost wholly in Walluvanad, and Eralan in 
Palghat and Walluvanad." In the Census Report, 1901, 
Alan (slave), and Paramban are given as sub-castes of 

According to one version, the name Cheruma or 
Cheramakkal signifies sons of the soil ; and, according 
to another, Cheriamakkal means little children, as 
Parasurama directed that they should be cared for, and 
treated as such. The word Pulayan is said to be derived 
from pula, meaning pollution. 

Of the Cherumans, the following account is given in 
the Gazetteer of Malabar. " They are said to be divided 
into 39 divisions, the more important of which are the 
Kanakka Cherumans, the Pula Cherumans or Pulayas, 
the Era Cherumans or Eralans, the Roli Cherumans or 
Rolans, and the Kudans. Whether these sub-divisions 
should be treated as separate castes or not, it is hardly 
possible to determine ; some of them at least are 
endogamous groups, and some are still further sub- 
divided. Thus the Pulayas of Chirakkal are said to be 
divided into one endogamous and eleven exogamous 
groups, called Mavadan, Elamanam, Tacchakudiyan, 
Kundaton, Cheruvulan, Mulattan, Talan, Vannatam, 
Eramalodiyan, Mullaviriyan, Egudan, and Kundon. 
Some at least of these group names obviously denote 
differences of occupation. The Kundotti, or woman of 
the last group, acts as midwife ; and in consequence the 
group is considered to convey pollution by touch to 


members of the other groups, and they will neither eat 
nor marry with those belonging to it. Death or birth 
pollution is removed by a member of the Mavadan class 
called Maruttan, who sprinkles cowdung mixed with 
water on the feet, and milk on the head of the person 
to be purified. At weddings, the Maruttan receives 32 
fanams, the prescribed price of a bride, from the bride- 
groom, and gives it to the bride's people. The Era 
Cherumans and Kanakkans, who are found only in the 
southern taluks of tiie district, appear to be divided into 
exogamous groups called Kuttams, many of which seem 
to be named after the house-name of the masters whom 
they serve. The Cherumans are almost solely employed 
as agricultural labourers and coolies ; but they also make 
mats and baskets." 

It is noted * by Mr. L. K. Anantha Krishna Iyer 
that M from traditions current among the Pulayas, it 
would appear that, once upon a time, they had dominion 
over several parts of the country. A person called 
Aikkara Yajaman, whose ancestors were Pulaya kings, 
is still held in considerable respect by the Pulayas of 
North Travancore, and acknowledged as their chieftain 
and lord, while the Aikkaranad in the Kunnethnad taluk 
still remains to lend colour to the tale. In Trivandrum, 
on the banks of the Velli lake, is a hill called Pulayanar 
Kotta, where it is believed that a Pulaya king once ruled. 
In other places, they are also said to have held sway. 
As a Paraya found at Melkota the image of Selvapillai, 
as a Savara was originally in possession of the sacred 
stone which became the idol in the temple of Jaganath, 
so also is the worship of Padmanabha at Trivandrum 
intimately connected with a Pulayan. Once a Pulaya 

Monograph, Eth. Survey of Cochin, No. 6, 1906. 


woman, who was living with her husband in the Ananthan 
kadu (jungle), suddenly heard the cry of a baby. She 
rushed to the spot, and saw to her surprise a child lying 
on the ground, protected by a snake. She took pity on 
it, and nursed it like her own child. The appearance of 
the snake intimated to her the divine origin of the 
infant. This proved to be true, for the child was an 
incarnation of Vishnu. As soon as the Raja of Travan- 
core heard of the wonderful event, he built a shrine on 
the spot where the baby had been found, and dedicated 
it to Padmanabha. The Pulayas round Trivandrum 
assert to this day that, in former times, a Pulaya king 
ruled, and had his castle not far from the present capital 
of Travancore. The following story is also current 
among them. The Pulayas got from the god Siva a 
boon, with spade and axe, to clear forests, own lands, 
and cultivate them. When other people took possession 
of them, they were advised to work under them." 

According to Mr. Logan,* the Cherumans are of two 
sections, one of which, the Iraya, are of slightly higher 
social standing than the Pulayan. " As the names 
denote, the former are permitted to come as far as the 
eaves (ira) of their employers' houses, while the latter 
name denotes that they convey pollution to all whom 
they meet, or approach." The name Cheruman is 
supposed to be derived from cheru, small, the Cheruman 
being short of stature, or from chera, a dam or low-lying 
rice field. Mr. Logan, however, was of opinion that 
there is ample evidence that " the Malabar coast at one 
time constituted the kingdom or Empire of Chera, and 
the nad or county of Cheranad lying on the coast and 
inland south-east of Calicut remains to the present day 

* Manual of Malabar. 


to give a local habitation to the ancient name. More- 
over, the name of the great Emperor of Malabar, who is 
known to every child on the coast as Cheraman Perumal, 
was undoubtedly the title and not the name of the 
Emperor, and meant the chief (literally, big man) of the 
Chera people." 

Of the history of slavery in Malabar an admirable 
account is given by Mr. Logan, from which the follow- 
ing extracts are taken. " In 1792, the year in which 
British rule commenced, a proclamation was issued 
against dealing in slaves. In 1 8 1 9, the principal Collector 
wrote a report on the condition of the Cherumar, and 
received orders that the practice of selling slaves for 
arrears of revenue be immediately discontinued. In 
1 82 1, the Court of Directors expressed considerable 
dissatisfaction at the lack of precise information which 
had been vouchsafed to them, and said ' We are told 
that part of the cultivators are held as slaves : that they 
are attached to the soil, and marketable property.' In 
1836, the Government ordered the remission in the 
Collector's accounts of Rs. 927-13-0, which was the 
annual revenue from slaves on the Government lands in 
Malabar, and the Government was at the same time 
1 pleased to accede to the recommendation in favour of 
emancipating the slaves on the Government lands in 
Malabar.' In 1S41, Mr. E. B. Thomas, the Judge at 
Calicut, wrote in strong terms a letter to the Sadr Adalat, 
in which he pointed out that women in some taluks 
(divisions) fetched higher prices, in order to breed slaves ; 
that the average cost of a young male under ten years 
was about Rs. 3-8-0, of a female somewhat less ; that 
an infant ten months old was sold in a court auction for 
Rs. 1-10-6 independent of the price of its mother ; and 

that, in a recent suit, the right to twenty-seven slaves 
1 1-4 


was the ' sole matter of litigation, and was disposed of on 
its merits.' In a further letter, Mr. Thomas pointed out 
that the slaves had increased in numbers from 144,000 at 
the Census, 1835, to 159,000 at the Census, 1842. It 
was apparently these letters which decided the Board of 
Directors to send out orders to legislate. And the 
Government of India passed Act V of 1843, of which 
the provisions were widely published through Malabar. 
The Collector explained to the Cherumar that it was in 
their interest, as well as their duty, to remain with their 
masters, if kindly treated. He proclaimed that ' the 
Government will not order a slave who is in the employ 
of an individual to forsake him and go to the service of 
another claimant ; nor will the Government interfere 
with the slave's inclination as to where he wishes to 
work.' And again, 'Any person claiming a slave as 
janmam, kanam or panayam, the right of such claim or 
claims will not be investigated into at any one of the 
public offices or courts.' In 1852, and again in 1855, the 
fact that traffic in slaves still continued was brought to 
the notice of Government, but on full consideration no 
further measures for the emancipation of the Cherumar 
were deemed to be necessary. The Cherumar even yet 
have not realised what public opinion in England would 
probably have forced down their throats fifty years ago, 
and there is reason to think that they are still, even now, 
with their full consent bought and sold and hired out, 
although, of course, the transaction must be kept secret 
for fear of the penalties of the Penal Code, which came 
into force in 1862, and was the real final blow at slavery in 
India. The slaves, however, as a caste will never under- 
stand what real freedom means, until measures are adopted 
to give them indefeasible rights in the small orchards 
occupied by them as house-sites." It is noted by 


Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer that " though slavery has been 
abolished many years ago, the name valliyal (a person 
receiving valli, i.e., paddy given to a slave) still survives." 
By the Penal Code it is enacted that — 

Whoever imports, exports, removes, buys, sells, or 
disposes of any person as a slave, or accepts, receives, 
or detains against his will any person as a slave, shall 
be punished with imprisonment for a term which may 
extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to a fine. 

Whoever habitually imports, exports, removes, buys, 
sells, traffics or deals in slaves, shall be punished with 
transportation for life, or with imprisonment for a term 
not exceeding ten years, and shall be liable to a fine. 

Whoever unlawfully compels any person to labour 
against the will of that person, shall be punished with 
imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, 
or with a fine, or with both. 

" Very low indeed," Mr. S. Appadorai Iyer writes,* 
M is the social position of these miserable beings. 
When a Cherumar meets a person of superior caste, 
he must stand at a distance of thirty feet. If he comes 
within this prohibited distance, his approach is said to 
cause pollution, which is removed only by bathing in 
water. A Cherumar cannot approach a Brahman village 
or temple, or tank. If he does so, purification becomes 
necessary. Even while using the public road, if he sees 
his lord and master, he has to leave the ordinary way 
and walk, it may be in the mud, to avoid his displeasure 
by accidentally polluting him. To avoid polluting 
the passer-by, he repeats the unpleasant sound ■ O, 
oh, O — '. [In some places, e.g. K Palghat, one may often 
see a Cheruman with a dirty piece of cloth spread 

* Calcutta Review, 1900. 
11-4 B 


on the roadside, and yelling in a shrill voice ' Ambrane, 
Ambarane, give me some pice, and throw them on 
the cloth.'] His position is intolerable in the Native 
States of Cochin and Travancore, where Brahman in- 
fluence is in the ascendant ; while in the Palghat taluk the 
Cherumars cannot, even to this day, enter the bazaar." 
A melancholy picture has been drawn of the Cherumans 
tramping along the marshes in mud, often wet up to 
their waists, to avoid polluting their superiors. In 1904, 
a Cheruman came within polluting distance of a Nayar, 
and was struck with a stick. The Cheruman went off 
and fetched another, whereupon the Nayar ran away. 
He was, however, pursued by the Cherumans. In 
defending himself with a spade, the Nayar struck the 
foremost Cheruman on the head, and killed him.* In 
another case, a Cheruman, who was the servant of a 
Mappilla, was fetching grass for his master, when he 
inadvertently approached some Tiyans, and thereby 
polluted them. The indignant Tiyans gave not only the 
Cheruman, but his master also, a sound beating by way 
of avenging the insult offered to them. 

The status of the Pulayas of the Cochin State is 
thus described by Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer. " They 
abstain from eating food prepared by the Velakkathala- 
vans (barbers), Mannans (washermen), Panans, Vettu- 
vans, Parayans, Nayadis, Ulladans, Malayans, and 
Kadars. The Pulayas in the southern parts of the State 
have to stand at a distance of 90 feet from Brahmans 
and 64 feet from Nayars, and this distance gradually 
diminishes towards the lower castes. They are polluted 
by Pula Cherumas, Parayas, Nayadis, and Ulladans. 
[The Pula Cherumas are said to eat beef, and sell the 

* Madras Police Report, 1904. 


hides of cattle.] The Kanakka Cherumas of the Chittur 
taluk pollute Era Cherumas and Konga Cherumas by 
touch, and by approach within a distance of seven or eight 
feet, and are themselves polluted by Pula Cherumas, 
Parayas, and Vettuvans, who have to stand at the same 
distance. Pulayas and Vettuvans bathe when they 
approach one another, for their status is a point of 
dispute as to which is superior to the other. When 
defiled by the touch of a Nayadi, a Cheruman has to 
bathe in seven tanks, and let a few drops of blood flow 
from one of his fingers. A Brahman who enters 
the compound of a Pulayan has to change his holy 
thread, and take panchagavyam (the five products of the 
cow) so as to be purified from pollution. The Valluva 
Pulayan of the Trichur taluk fasts for three days, if he 
happens to touch a cow that has been delivered of a 
calf. He lives on toddy and tender cocoanuts. He has 
also to fast three days after the delivery of his wife." 
In ordinary conversation in Malabar, such expressions 
as Tiya-pad or Cheruma-pad (that is, the distance at 
which a Tiyan or Cheruman has to keep) are said to be 
commonly used. # 

By Mr. T. K. Gopal Panikkar the Cherumans are 
described f as "a very inferior race, who are regarded 
merely as agricultural instruments in the hands of the 
landlords their masters, who supply them with houses on 
their estates. Their daily maintenance is supplied to 
them by their masters themselves. Every morning the 
master's agent summons them to his house, and takes 
them away to work in the fields, in ploughing, drawing 
water from wells, and in short doing the whole of the 
cultivation. In the evening a certain quantity of paddy 

* Gazetteer of the Malabar district. t Malabar and its Folk, 1900. 


(unhusked rice) is distributed to them as wages. Both 
theory and practice, in the great majority of cases, are 
that they are fed at the master's cost the whole year 
round, whether they work in the fields or not. But it is 
very seldom that they can have a holiday, regard being 
had to the nature of agriculture in Malabar. It is the 
Cheruma that should plough the land, sow the seed, 
transplant the seedlings, regulate the flow of water in 
the fields, uproot the weeds, and see that the crops are 
not destroyed by animals, or stolen. When the crops 
ripen, he has to keep watch at night. The sentry house 
consists of a small oval-shaped portable roof, constructed 
of palmyra and cocoanut leaves, supported by four posts, 
across which are tied bamboos, which form the watch- 
man's bed. Wives sometimes accompany their husbands 
in their watches. When the harvest season approaches, 
the Cheruman's hands are full. He has to cut the crops, 
carry them to the barn (kalam), separate the corn from 
the stalk, and winnow it. The second crop operations 
immediately follow, and the Cheruma has to go through 
all these processes again. It is in the summer season 
that his work is light, when he is set to prepare 
vegetable gardens, or some odd job is found for him by 
his master. The old, infirm, and the children look after 
their master's cattle. Receiving his daily pittance of 
paddy, the Cheruman enters his hut, and reserves a 
portion of it for the purchase of salt, chillies, toddy, 
tobacco, and dried fish. The other portion is reserved 
for food. The Cheruman spends the greater part of his 
wages on toddy. It is a very common sight in Malabar 
to see a group of Cherumans, including women and 
children, sitting in front of a toddy shop, the Cheruman 
transferring the unfinished portion of the toddy to his 
wife, and the latter to the children. A Cheruman, 


however, rarely gets intoxicated, or commits crime. No 
recess is allowed to the Cherumans, except on national 
holidays and celebrated temple festivals observed in 
honour of the goddess Bhagavati or Kali, when they are 
quite free to indulge in drink. On these days, their hire is 
given in advance. With this they get intoxicated, and 
go to the poora-paramba or temple premises, where the 
festival is celebrated, in batches of four, each one tying 
his hands to another's neck, and reciting every two 
seconds the peculiar sound : 

Lalle lalle lalle ho. 

Lalle lalle lalle ho. 

" On the European plantations in the Wynad the 
Cherumans are in great request, and many are to be seen 
travelling nowadays without fear in railway carriages on 
their way to the plantations. A few also work in the 
gold mines of Mysore." 

Like other servile classes, the Cherumans possess 
special privileges on special occasions. For example, at 
the chal (furrow) ceremony in Malabar " the master of 
the house, the cultivating agent, and Cherumans assemble 
in the barn, a portion of the yard in front of the building 
is painted with rice-water, and a lighted bell-lamp is 
placed near at hand with some paddy and rice, and several 
cups made of the leaves of the kanniram (Strychnos nux- 
vomicd) — as many cups as there are varieties of seed in 
the barn. Then, placing implicit faith in his gods, and 
deceased ancestors, the master of the house opens the 
barn door, followed by the Cheruman with a new painted 
basket containing the leaf cups. The master then takes 
a handful of seed from a seed-basket, and fills one of the 
cups, and the cultivating agent, head Cheruman, and 
others who are interested in a good harvest, fill the cups 
till the seeds are exhausted. The basket, with the cups, 


is next taken to the decorated portion of the yard. A 
new ploughshare is fastened to a new plough, and a pair 
of cattle are brought on to the scene. Plough, cattle, and 
basket are all painted with rice-water. A procession 
proceeds to the fields, on reaching which the head 
Cheruman lays down the basket, and makes a mound of 
earth with the spade. To this a little manure is added, 
and the master throws a handful of seed into it. The 
cattle are then yoked, and one turn is ploughed by the 
head Cheruman. Inside this at least seven furrows are 
made, and the plough is dropped to the right. An offering 
is made to Ganapathi (the elephant god), and the master 
throws some seed into a furrow. Next the head Cheru- 
man calls out ' May the gods on high and the deceased 
ancestors bless the seed, which has been thrown broad- 
cast, and the cattle which are let loose ; the mother and 
children of the house, the master, and the slaves, may 
they also vouchsafe to us a good crop, good sunshine, and 
good harvest.' A cocoanut is then cut on the plough- 
share, and from the cut portions several deductions are 
made. If the hinder part is larger than the front one, the 
harvest will be moderate. If the cut passes through the 
eyes of the nut, or if no water is left in the cut portions, 
certain misfortune is foreboded. The cut fragments are 
then taken w ith a little water inside them, and a leaf of 
the tulsi plant (Ocimum sanctum) dropped in. If the leaf 
turns to the right, a prosperous harvest is assured ; 
whereas, if it turns to the left, certain calamity will follow. 
This ceremonial concluded, there is much shouting, and 
the names of all the gods may be heard called out in a 
confused prayer. The party then breaks up, and the 
unused seeds are divided among the workmen." # At 

* Karunakara Menon, Madras Mus. Bull., V. 2, 1906. 


the ceremony in Malabar, when the transplantation of 
rice is completed, during which a goat is sacrificed to 
Muni, the protector of cattle and field labourers, the 
officiating priest is generally the cultivation agent of the 
family, who is a Nayar, or sometimes a Cheruman. 

In connection with the harvest ceremonial in Cochin, 
Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer writes as follows. " There 
are some curious customs connected with the harvest, 
prevailing among the Pulayas of the southern parts of the 
State. Before reaping, the Pulaya headman asks his 
master whether he may begin to reap. With his permis- 
sion, he faces the east, and puts the sickle to the stalks. 
The first bundle he reserves for the gods of his master, 
and the second for those of his castemen. Before 
thrashing, the same headman takes a few bundles of 
corn from the sheaf intended for their gods, and sprinkles 
toddy on them. Another Pulayan does the same for the 
various reapers, and says, as he does so ' Come, thrashing 
corn, increase.' This is called filling the thrashing floor, 
and each man thrashes his own sheaves. When the 
thrashing is over, the headman puts his master's sheaf 
in the centre of the floor, and his own at a short distance 
outside, in order that the two sets of gods may look 
kindly on them. The headman is privileged to measure 
the corn sitting with his two assistants, saying ' Come, 
paddy, increase,' as he counts. He also calls out ' Good 
paddy, one ', ' bad paddy, two ', and so on, until he counts 
ten. The eleventh is the share for the reaper. He takes 
a handful, and places it in a basket, half of which falls to 
him, his assistants and the watchman, while the other 
half is given away in charity to the poor men that come 
to the thrashing place. In the northern parts of the 
State, before reaping, offerings of goats, fowls, and 
cocoanuts, are made to Mallan and Muni. The Cheruma 



headman faces east, and applies his sickle to the stalks, 
reserving the first stalk for the deities above mentioned. 
The corn is thrashed and measured by one of them, and, 
as he does so, he says ' Labham ' (profit) for one, 
' Chetham ' (loss) for two, and counts up to ten. The 
eleventh goes to the share of the reapers. Thus they 
get one para for every ten paras of corn. The poor 
people that attend are also given a handful of the grain. 
After reaping, the members of the castes named in the 
table below receive a small portion of the corn for their 
services rendered to the farmers in the course of the 
months during which cultivation has been carried on : — 


Purpose for which paddy 
is given. 


Carpenters ... 

For making and repairing 

A big bundle of 

ploughs, etc. 



For making sickles, knives, 
and other tools. 



For lifting and placing the 
loads of stalks on the heads 
of the Cherumans, who carry 
them to the farmyard. 


Washerman or Man- 

For keeping off birds, insects, 



etc., from the fields by magic. 


For treating Cherumas during 
their illness, and for sham- 
pooing them. 


Kaniyan or astrolo- 

For giving information of the 



auspicious times for plough- 
ing, sowing, transplanting 
and reaping, and also of the 
time for giving rice, vege- 
tables, oil, etc., to the 
Cherumas during the Onam 


"The Pulayans receive, in return for watching, a 
small portion of the field near the watchman's rest-hut, 
which is left unreaped for him. It fetches him a para 
of paddy. 

" The Cherumas who are engaged in reaping get two 
bundles of corn each for every field. For measuring 
the corn from the farmyard, a Cheruman gets an edan- 
gazhy of paddy, in addition to his daily wage. Three 
paras of paddy are set apart for the local village deity. 
During the month of Karkadakam, the masters give 
every Cheruman a fowl, some oil, garlic, mustard, anise 
seeds, pepper, and turmeric. They prepare a decoction 
of seeds, and boil the flesh of the fowl in it, which they 
take for three days, during which they are allowed to take 
rest. Three days' wages are also given in advance." 

In Travancore, a festival named Macam is held, of 
which the following account has been published.* " The 
Macam (tenth constellation Regulus, which follows 
Thiru Onam in August), is regarded by Hindus as a day 
of great festivity. One must enjoy it even at the cost of 
one's children, so runs an adage. The day is considered 
to be so lucky that a girl born under the star Regulus is 
verily born with a silver spoon in her mouth. It was 
on Macam, some say, that the Devas, to free themselves 
from the curse they were put under by a certain sage, 
had to churn the sea of milk to procure ambrosia. Be 
the cause which led to the celebration what it may, the 
Hindus of the present day have ever been enthusiastic 
in its observance ; only some of the rude customs con- 
nected with it have died out in the course of time, or 
were put a stop to by Government. Sham fights were, 
and are still, in some places a feature of the day. Such 

Madras Mail, 1908. 


a sham fight used to be carried on at Pallam until, about 
a hundred years ago, it was stopped through the inter- 
vention of Colonel Munro, the British Resident in 
Travancore. The place is still called Patanilam (battle 
field), and the tank, on opposite sides of which the 
contending parties assembled, Chorakulam (pool of 
blood). The steel swords and spears, of curious and 
various shapes, and shields large enough to cover a man, 
are even now preserved in the local temple. Many lives 
were lost in these fights. It is not generally known, 
even to people in these parts, that a sham fight takes 
place on Macam and the previous day every year at a 
place called Wezhapra, between the Changanacherry and 
Ambalapuzha taluks. Three banyan trees mark the 
place. People, especially Pulayas and Pariahs, to the 
number of many thousands, collect round the outside 
trees with steel swords, spears, and slings in their hand. 
A small bund (embankment) separates the two parties. 
They have to perform certain religious rites near the tree 
which stands in the middle, and, in doing so, make some 
movements with their swords and spears to the accom- 
paniment of music. If those standing on one side of the 
bund cross it, a regular fight is the result. In order to 
avoid such things, without at the same time interfering 
with their liberty to worship at the spot, the Government 
this year made all the necessary arrangements. The 
Police were sent for the purpose. Everything went off 
smoothly but for one untoward event. The people had 
been told not to come armed with steel weapons, but 
with wooden ones. They had to put them down, and 
were then allowed to go and worship." 

Of conversion to Muhammadanism at the present 
time, a good example is afforded by the Cherumans. 
"This caste," the Census Superintendent, 1881, writes, 


"numbered 99,009 in Malabar at the census of 1871, 
and, in 1 881, is returned as only 64,735. There are 40,000 
fewer Cherumans than there would have been but for 
some disturbing influence, and this is very well known 
to be conversion to Muhammadanism. The honour of 
Islam once conferred on the Cheruman, he moves at one 
spring several places higher than that which he originally 
occupied." " Conversion to Muhammadanism," Mr. 
Logan writes, " has had a marked effect in freeing the 
slave caste in Malabar from their former burthens. By 
conversion a Cheruman obtains a distinct rise in the 
social scale, and, if he is in consequence bullied or beaten, 
the influence of the whole Muhammadan community 
comes to his aid." It has been noted* that Cheruman 
converts to Islam take part in the Moplah (Mappilla) 
outbreaks, which from time to time disturb the peace of 

The home of the Cheruman is called a chala or hut, 
which has a thatched roof of grass and palm-leaves 
resembling an immense bee-hive. A big underground 
cell, with a ceiling of planks, forms the granary of the 
occupants of these huts. The chief house furniture 
consists of a pestle and mortar, and two or three 
earthenware pots. 

The habitations of the Pulayas of Cochin are thus 
described by Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer. "Their huts 
are generally called madams, which are put up on the 
banks of fields, in the middle of rice flats, or on trees 
along their borders, so as to enable them to watch the 
crops after the toils of the day. They are discouraged 
from erecting better huts, under the idea that, if settled 
more comfortably, they would be less inclined to move 

* S. Appadorai Iyer. 


as cultivation required. The madams are very poor huts, 
supported on four small posts, and thatched with leaves. 
The sides are protected with the same kind of leaves. 
There is only one room, and the floor, though slightly 
raised, is very damp during the rainy months. These 
temporary buildings are removed after the harvest, and 
put up in places where cultivation has to be carried on. 
All the members of the family sleep together in the same 
hut. Small temporary huts are sometimes erected, which 
are little better than inverted baskets. These are placed 
in the rice field while the crop is on the ground, and near 
the stacks while it is being thrashed. In the northern 
parts of the State, the Pulaya huts are made of mud walls, 
and provided with wooden doors. The roofs are of 
bamboo framework thatched with palmyra palm leaves. 
The floor is raised, and the huts are provided with pyals 
(raised platforms) on three sides. They have also small 
compounds (grounds) around them. There is only one 
room inside, which is the sleeping apartment of the 
newly married youngsters. The others, I am told, sleep 
on the verandahs. The utensils consist of a few earthen 
pots for cooking and keeping water, and a few earthen 
dishes for taking food. In addition to these, I found a 
wooden mortar, a few pestles, two pans, two winnowing 
pans, a fish basket for each woman, a few cocoanut shells 
for keeping salt and other things, a few baskets of their 
own making, in one of which a few dirty cloths were 
placed, some mats of their own making, a bamboo vessel 
for measuring corn, and a vessel for containing toddy." 

" During the rainy season, the Cherumas in the field 
wear a few green leaves, especially those of the plantain 
tree, tied round their waists, and a small cone-shaped 
cap, made of plantain leaf, is worn on the head. This 
practice, among the females, has fallen into disuse in 


Malabar, though it is to some extent still found in the 
Native States. The Cherumi is provided with one long 
piece of thick cloth, which she wraps round her waist, 
and which does not even reach the knees. She does not 
cover the chest." * The Cheruma females have been 
described as wearing, when at work in the open, a big 
oval-shaped handleless umbrella covered with palm 
leaves, which they place on their back, and which covers 
the whole of their person in the stooping attitude. The 
men use, during the rainy season, a short-handled palm- 
leaf umbrella. 

The women are profusely decorated with cheap jewelry 
of which the following are examples : 

i. Lobes of both ears widely dilated by rolled 
leaden ornaments. Brass, and two glass bead necklets, 
string necklet with flat brass ornaments, the size of a 
Venetian sequin, with device as in old Travancore gold 
coins, with two brass cylinders pendent behind, and 
tassels of red cotton. Three brass rings on right little 
finger ; two on left ring finger, one brass and two steel 
bangles on left wrist. 

2. Several bead necklets, and a single necklet of 
many rows of beads. Brass necklet like preceding, with 
steel prong and scoop, for removing wax from the ears 
and picking teeth, tied to one of the necklets. Attached 
to, and pendent from one necklet, three palm leaf rolls 
with symbols and Malayalam inscription to act as a 
charm in driving away devils. Three ornamental brass 
bangles on right forearm, two on left. Iron bangle 
on left wrist. Thin brass ring in helix of each ear. 
Seventy thin brass rings (alandoti) with heavy brass 
ornament (adikaya) in dilated lobe of each ear. 

* Calcutta Review, 1900. 


3. In addition to glass bead necklets, a necklet 
with heavy heart-shaped brass pendants. String round 
neck to ward off fever. 

4. String necklet with five brass cylinders pendent ; 
five brass bangles on right wrist ; six brass and two iron 
bangles on left wrist. 

Right hand, one copper and five brass rings on 
middle finger ; one iron and three brass rings on little 

Left hand, one copper and five brass rings on 
middle finger ; three brass and two copper rings on ring 
finger ; one brass ring on little finger. 

5. Trouser button in helix of left ear. 

6. Brass bead necklet with pendent brass ornament 
with legend "Best superior umbrella made in Japan, 
made for Fazalbhoy Peeroo Mahomed, Bombay." 

A Cheruman, at Calicut, had his hair long and 
unkempt, as he played the drum at the temple. Another 
had the hair arranged in four matted plaits, for the cure 
of disease in performance of a vow. A man who wore a 
copper cylinder on his loin string, containing a brass 
strip with mantrams (consecrated formulae) engraved on 
it, sold it to me for a rupee with the assurance that it 
would protect me from devils. 

Concerning the marriage ceremony of the Cherumans 
in Malabar, Mr. Appadorai Iyer writes that "the bride- 
groom's sister is the chief performer. It is she who pays 
the bride's price, and carries her off. The consent of 
the parents is required, and is signified by an interchange 
of visits between the parents of the bride and bridegroom. 
During these visits, rice-water (conji) is sipped. Before 
tasting the conji, they drop a fanam (local coin) into the 
vessel containing it, as a token of assent to the marriage. 
When the wedding party sets out, a large congregation 


of Cherumans follow, and at intervals indulge in stick 
play, the women singing in chorus to encourage them 
1 Let us see, let us see the stick play (vadi tallu), Oh ! 
Cheruman.' The men and women mingle indiscrimi- 
nately in the dance during the wedding ceremony. On 
the return to the bridegroom's hut, the bride is expected 
to weep loudly, and deplore her fate. On entering the 
bridegroom's hut, she must tread on a pestle placed 
across the threshold." During the dance, the women 
have been described as letting down their hair, and 
dancing with a tolerable amount of rhythmic precision 
amid vigorous drumming and singing. According to 
another account, the bridegroom receives from his 
brother-in-law a kerchief, which the giver ties round his 
waist, and a bangle which is placed on his arm. The 
bride receives a pewter vessel from her brother. Next 
her cousin ties a kerchief round the groom's forehead, 
and sticks a betel leaf in it. The bride is then handed 
over to the bridegroom. 

Of the puberty and marriage ceremonies of the 
Pulayas of Cochin, the following detailed account is 
given by Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer. " When a Pulaya 
girl comes of age, she is located in a separate hut. Five 
Vallons (headmen), and the castemen of the kara (settle- 
ment), are invited to take part in the performance of the 
ceremony. A song, called malapattu, is sung for an hour 
by a Parayan to the accompaniment of drum and pipe. 
The Parayan gets a para of paddy, and his assistants 
three annas each. As soon as this is over, seven cocoa- 
nuts are broken, and the water thereof is poured over 
the head of the girl, and the broken halves are distributed 
among the five Vallons and seven girls who are also 
invited to be present. Some more water is also poured 
on the girl's head at the time. She is lodged in a 
1 1-5 


temporary hut for seven days, during which food is served 
to her at a distance. She is forbidden to go out and 
play with her friends. On the morning of the seventh 
day, the Vallons of the kara and the castemen are again 
invited. The latter bring with them some rice, vege- 
tables, and toddy, to defray the expenses of. the feast. 
At dawn, the mother of the girl gives oil to the seven 
Pulaya maidens, and to her daughter for an oil-bath. 
They then go to a neighbouring tank (pond) or stream to 
bathe, and return home. The girl is then neatly dressed, 
and adorned in her best. Her face is painted yellow, 
and marked with spots of various colours. She stands 
before a few Parayas, who play on their flute and drum, 
to cast out the demons, if any, from her body. The girl 
leaps with frantic movements, if she is possessed by 
them. In that case, they transfer them to a tree close 
by driving a nail into the trunk after due offerings. If 
she is not possessed, she remains unmoved, and the 
Parayas bring the music to a close. The girl is again 
bathed with her companions, who are all treated to a 
dinner. The ceremony then comes to an end with a 
feast to the castemen. The ceremony described is 
performed by the Valluva Pulayas in the southern parts, 
near and around the suburbs of Cochin, but is unknown 
among other sub-tribes elsewhere. The devil-driving 
by the Parayas is not attended to. Nor is a temporary 
hut erected for the girl to be lodged in. She is allowed 
to remain in a corner of the hut, but is not permitted to 
touch others. She is bathed on the seventh day, and 
the castemen, friends and relations, are invited to a 

" Marriage is prohibited among members of the same 
koottam (family group). In the Chittur taluk, members 
of the same village do not intermarry, for they believe 


that their ancestors may have been the slaves of some 
local landlord, and, as such, the descendants of the same 
parents. A young man may marry among the relations 
of his father, but not among those of his mother. In the 
Palghat taluk, the Kanakka Cherumas pride themselves 
on the fact that they avoid girls within seven degrees of 
relationship. The marriage customs vary according to 
the sub-division. In the southern parts of the State, 
Pulaya girls are married before puberty, while in other 
places, among the Kanakka Cherumas and other sub- 
tribes, they are married both before and after puberty. 
In the former case, when a girl has not been married 
before puberty, she is regarded as having become 
polluted, and stigmatised as a woman whose age is 
known. Her parents and uncles lose all claim upon her. 
They formally drive her out of the hut, and proceed to 
purify it by sprinkling water mixed with cow-dung both 
inside and outside, and also with sand. She is thus 
turned out of caste. She was, in former times, handed 
over to the Vallon, who either married her to his own 
son, or sold her to a slave master. If a girl is too 
poor to be married before puberty, the castemen of the 
kara raise a subscription, and marry her to one of 

" When a young Pulayan wishes to marry, he applies 
to his master, who is bound to defray the expenses. He 
gives seven fanams # to the bride's master, one fanam 
worth of cloth to the bride-elect, and about ten fanams 
for the marriage feast. In all, his expenses amount to 
ten rupees. The ceremony consists in tying a ring 
attached to a thread round the neck of the bride. This 
is provided by her parents. When he becomes tired of 

* One fanam = four annas eight pies. 
II— 5 B 


his wife, he may dispose of her to any other person who 
will pay the expenses incurred at the marriage. There 
are even now places where husband and wife serve 
different masters, but more frequently they serve the 
same master. The eldest male child belongs to the 
master of the mother. The rest of the family remain 
with the mother while young, but, being the property 
of the owner, revert to him when of an age to be useful. 
She also follows them, in the event of her becoming a 
widow. In some places, a man brings a woman to his 
master, and says that he wishes to keep her as his wife. 
She receives her allowance of rice, but may leave her 
husband as she likes, and is not particular in changing 
one spouse for another. In other places, the marriage 
ceremonies of the Era Cherumas are more formal. The 
bridegroom's party goes to the bride's hut, and presents 
rice and betel leaf to the head of the family, and asks 
for the bride. Consent is indicated by the bride's 
brother placing some rice and cloth before the assembly, 
and throwing rice on the headman of the caste, who is 
present. On the appointed day, the bridegroom goes 
to the hut with two companions, and presents the girl 
with cloth and twelve fanams. From that day he is 
regarded as her husband, and cohabitation begins at 
once. But the bride cannot accompany him until the 
ceremony called mangalam is performed. The bride- 
groom's party goes in procession to the bride's hut, 
where a feast awaits them. The man gives sweetmeats 
to the girl's brother. The caste priest recites the family 
history of the two persons, and the names of their 
masters and deities. They are then seated before a 
lamp and a heap of rice in a pandal (booth). One of 
the assembly gets up, and delivers a speech on the 
duties of married life, touching on the evils of theft, 


cheating, adultery, and so forth. Rice is thrown on the 
heads of the couple, and the man prostrates himself at 
the feet of the elders. Next day, rice is again thrown 
on their heads. Then the party assembled makes pre- 
sents to the pair, a part of which goes to the priest, and 
a part to the master of the husband. Divorce is very 
easy, but the money paid must be returned to the 

"In the Ooragam proverthy of the Trichur taluk, I 
find that the marriage among the Pulayas of that locality 
and the neighbouring villages is a rude form of samban- 
dham (alliance), somewhat similar to that which prevails 
among the Nayars, whose slaves a large majority of 
them are. The husband, if he may be so called, goes to 
the woman's hut with his wages, to stay therein with her 
for the night. They may serve under different masters. 
A somewhat similar custom prevails among the Pula 
Cherumas of the Trichur taluk. The connection is called 
Merungu Kooduka, which means to tame, or to associate 

" A young man, who wishes to marry, goes to the 
parents of the young woman, and asks their consent to 
associate with their daughter. If they approve, he goes 
to her at night as often as he likes. The woman seldom 
comes to the husband's hut to stay with him, except 
with the permission of the thamar (landlord) on auspicious 
occasions. They are at liberty to separate at their will 
and pleasure, and the children born of the union belong 
to the mother's landlord. Among the Kanakka Cheru- 
mas in the northern parts of the State, the following 
marital relations are in force. When a young man 
chooses a girl, the preliminary arrangements are made 
in her hut, in the presence of her parents, relations, and 
the castemen of the village. The auspicious day is fixed, 


and a sum of five fanams is paid as the bride's price. 
The members assembled are treated to a dinner. A 
similar entertainment is held at the bridegroom's hut to 
the bride's parents, uncles, and others who come to see 
the bridegroom. On the morning of the day fixed for the 
wedding, the bridegroom and his party go to the bride's 
hut, where they are welcomed, and seated on mats in a 
small pandal put up in front of the hut. A muri (piece 
of cloth), and two small mundus (cloths) are the marriage 
presents to the bride. A vessel full of paddy (unhusked 
rice), a lighted lamp, and a cocoanut are placed in a 
conspicuous place therein. The bride is taken to the 
booth, and seated by the side of the bridegroom. Before 
she enters it, she goes seven times round it, with seven 
virgins before her. With prayers to their gods for 
blessings on the couple, the tali (marriage badge) is 
tied round the bride's neck. The bridegroom's sister 
completes the knot. By a strange custom, the bride's 
mother does not approach the bridegroom, lest it should 
cause a ceremonial pollution. The ceremony is brought 
to a close with a feast to those assembled. Toddy is an 
indispensable item of the feast. During the night, they 
amuse themselves by dancing a kind of wild dance, in 
which both men and women joyfully take part. After 
this, the bridegroom goes along to his own hut, along 
with his wife and his party, where also they indulge in 
a feast. After a week, two persons from the bride's hut 
come to invite the married couple. The bride and 
bridegroom stay at the bride's hut for a few days, and 
cannot return to his hut unless an entertainment, called 
Vathal Choru, is given him. 

" The marriage customs of the Valluva Pulayas in 
the southern parts of the State, especially in the Cochin 
and Kanayannur taluks, are more formal. The average 


age of a young man for marriage is between fifteen and 
twenty, while that of a girl is between ten and twelve. 
Before a young Pulayan thinks of marriage, he has to 
contract a formal and voluntary friendship with another 
young Pulayan of the same age and locality. If he is 
not sociably inclined, his father selects one for him from 
a Pulaya of the same or higher status, but not of the 
same illam (family group). If the two parents agree 
among themselves, they meet in the hut of either of 
them to solemnise it. They fix a day for the ceremony, 
and invite their Vallon and the castemen of the village. 
The guests are treated to a feast in the usual Pulaya 
fashion. The chief guest and the host eat together 
from the same dish. After the feast, the father of the 
boy, who has to obtain a friend for his son, enquires 
of the Vallon and those assembled whether he may 
be permitted to buy friendship by the payment of 
money. They give their permission, and the boy's 
father gives the money to the father of the selected 
friend. The two boys then clasp hands, and they are 
never to quarrel. The new friend becomes from that 
time a member of the boy's family. He comes in, 
and goes out of their hut as he likes. There is no 
ceremony performed at it, or anything done without 
consulting him. He is thus an inseparable factor in all 
ceremonies, especially in marriages. I suspect that the 
friend has some claims on a man's wife. The first 
observance in marriage consists in seeing the girl. The 
bridegroom-elect, his friend, father and maternal uncle, 
go to the bride's hut, to be satisfied with the girl. If 
the wedding is not to take place at an early date, the 
bridegroom's parents have to keep up the claim on the 
bride-elect by sending presents to her guardians. The 
presents, which are generally sweetmeats, are taken to 


her hut by the bridegroom and his friends, who are well 
fed by the mother of the girl, and are given a few neces- 
saries when they take leave of her the next morning. 
The next observance is the marriage negociation, which 
consists in giving the bride's price, and choosing an 
auspicious day in consultation with the local astrologer 
(Kaniyan). On the evening previous to the wedding, 
the friends and relations of the bridegroom are treated 
to a feast in his hut. Next day at dawn, the bridegroom 
and his friend, purified by a bath, and neatly dressed in 
a white cloth with a handkerchief tied over it, and with a 
knife stuck in their girdles, go to the hut of the bride- 
elect accompanied by his party, and are all well received, 
and seated on mats spread on the floor. Over a mat 
specially made by the bride's mother are placed three 
measures of rice, some particles of gold, a brass plate, 
and a plank with a white and red cover on it. The 
bridegroom, after going seven times round the pandal, 
stands on the plank, and the bride soon follows making 
three rounds, when four women hold a cloth canopy 
over her head, and seven virgins go in front of her. 
The bride then stands by the side of the bridegroom, 
and they face each other. Her guardian puts on the 
wedding necklace a gold bead on a string. Music is 
played, and prayers are offered up to the sun to bless 
the necklace which is tied round the neck of the girl. 
The bridegroom's friend, standing behind, tightens the 
knot already made. The religious part of the ceremony 
is now over, and the bridegroom and bride are taken 
inside the hut, and food is served to them on the same 
leaf. Next the guests are fed, and then they begin the 
poli or subscription. A piece of silk, or any red cloth, 
is spread on the floor, or a brass plate is placed before 
the husband. The guests assembled put in a few annas, 


and take leave of the chief host as they depart. The 
bride is soon taken to the bridegroom's hut, and her 
parents visit her the next day, and get a consideration in 
return. On the fourth day, the bridegroom and bride 
bathe and worship the local deity, and, on the seventh 
day, they return to the bride's hut, where the tali 
(marriage badge) is formally removed from the neck of 
the girl, who is bedecked with brass beads round her 
neck, rings on her ears, and armlets. The next morning, 
the mother-in-law presents her son-in-law and his friend 
with a few necessaries of life, and sends them home with 
her daughter. 

" During the seventh month of pregnancy, the cere- 
mony of puli kuti, or tamarind juice drinking, is performed 
as among other castes. This is also an occasion for 
casting out devils, if any, from the body. The pregnant 
woman is brought back to the hut of her own family. 
The devil-driver erects a tent-like structure, and covers 
it with plantain bark and leaves of the cocoanut palm. 
The flower of an areca palm is fixed at the apex. A 
cocoanut palm flower is cut out and covered with a piece 
of cloth, the cut portion being exposed. The woman is 
seated in front of the tent-like structure with the flower, 
which symbolises the yet unborn child in the womb, in 
her lap. The water of a tender cocoanut in spoons 
made of the leaf of the jack tree {Artocarpus integrifolia) 
is poured over the cut end by the Vallon, guardian, and 
brothers and sisters present. The devil-driver then 
breaks open the flower, and, by looking at the fruits, 
predicts the sex of the child. If there are fruits at the 
end nearest the stem, the child will live and, if the 
number of fruits is even, there will be twins. There 
will be deaths if any fruit is not well formed. The 
devil-driver repeats an incantation, whereby he invokes 


the aid of Kali, who is believed to be present in the tent. 
He fans the woman with the flower, and she throws rice 
and a flower on it. He repeats another incantation, 
which is a prayer to Kali to cast out the devil from her 
body. This magical ceremony is called Garbha Bali 
(pregnancy offering). The structure, with the offering, 
is taken up, and placed in a corner of the compound 
reserved for gods. The devotee then goes through 
the remaining forms of the ceremony. She pours into 
twenty-one leaf spoons placed in front of the tent a 
mixture of cow's milk, water of the tender cocoanut, 
flower, and turmeric powder. Then she walks round 
the tent seven times, and sprinkles the mixture on it 
with a palm flower. Next she throws a handful of rice 
and paddy, after revolving each handful round her head, 
and then covers the offering with a piece of cloth. 
She now returns, and her husband puts into her mouth 
seven globules of prepared tamarind. The devil-driver 
rubs her body with Phlomis (?) petals and paddy, 
and thereby finds out whether she is possessed or not. 
If she is, the devil is driven out with the usual offerings. 
The devil -driver gets for his services twelve measures 
and a half of paddy, and two pieces of cloth. The 
husband should not, during this period, get shaved. 

11 When a young woman is about to give birth to a 
child, she is lodged in a small hut near her dwelling, and 
is attended by her mother and a few elderly women of 
the family. After the child is born, the mother and the 
baby are bathed. The woman is purified by a bath on 
the seventh day. The woman who has acted as midwife 
draws seven lines on the ground at intervals of two feet 
from one another, and spreads over them aloe leaves 
torn to shreds. Then, with burning sticks in the hand r 
the mother with the baby goes seven times over the 


leaves backwards and forwards, and is purified. For 
these seven days, the father should not eat anything 
made of rice. He lives on toddy, fruits, and other 
things. The mother remains with her baby in the hut 
for sixteen days, when she is purified by a bath so as 
to be free from pollution, after which she goes to the 
main hut. Her enangathi (relation by marriage) sweeps 
the hut and compound, and sprinkles water mixed with 
cow-dung on her body as she returns after the bath. 
In some places, the bark of athi (Fiacs glomerata) and 
ithi {Ficus Tsiela ?) is well beaten and bruised, and mixed 
with water. Some milk is added to this mixture, which 
is sprinkled both inside and outside the hut. Only after 
this do they think that the hut and compound are puri- 
fied. Among the Cherumas of Palghat, the pollution 
lasts for ten days. 

" The ear-boring ceremony is performed during the 
sixth or seventh year. The Vallon, who is invited, bores 
the ears with a sharp needle. The wound is healed 
by applying cocoanut oil, and the hole is gradually 
widened by inserting cork, a wooden plug, or a roll of 
palm leaves. The castemen of the village are invited, 
and fed. The landlord gives the parents of the girl 
three paras of paddy, and this, together with what the 
guests bring, goes to defray the expenses of the 
ceremony. After the meal they go, with drum-beating, 
to the house of the landlord, and present him with a para 
of beaten rice, which is distributed among his servants. 
The ear-borer receives eight edangazhis of paddy, a 
cocoanut, a vessel of rice, and four annas. 

" A woman found to be having intercourse with a 
Paraya is outcasted. She becomes a convert to Chris- 
tianity or Mahomedanism. If the irregularity takes 
place within the caste, she is well thrashed, and prevented 


from resorting to the bad practice. In certain cases, 
when the illicit connection becomes public, the castemen 
meet with their Vallon, and conduct a regular enquiry into 
the matter, and pronounce a verdict upon the evidence. 
If a young woman becomes pregnant before marriage, 
her lover, should he be a Pulaya, is compelled to marry 
her, as otherwise she would be placed under a ban. If 
both are married, the lover is well thrashed, and fined. 
The woman is taken before a Thandan (Izhuva head- 
man), who, after enquiry, gives her the water of a tender 
cocoanut, which she is asked to drink, when she is 
believed to be freed from the sin. Her husband may 
take her back again as his wife, or she is at liberty to 
marry another. The Thandan gets a few annas, betel 
leaves and areca nuts, and tobacco. Both the woman's 
father and the lover are fined, and the fine is spent 
in the purchase of toddy, which is indulged in by 
those present at the time. In the northern parts of 
the State, there is a custom that a young woman before 
marriage mates with one or two paramours with the 
connivance of her parents. Eventually one of them 
marries her, but this illicit union ceases at once on 

Of the death ceremonies among the Cherumas of 
South Malabar, I gather that " as soon as a Cheruman 
dies, his jenmi or landlord is apprised of the fact, ( and is 
by ancient custom expected to send a field spade, 
a white cloth, and some oil. The drummers of the 
community are summoned to beat their drums in 
announcement of the sad event. This drumming is 
known as parayadikka. The body is bathed in oil, and 
the near relatives cover it over with white and red cloths, 
and take it to the front yard. Then the relatives have 
a bath, after which the corpse is removed to the burying 


ground, where a grave is dug. All those who have 
come to the interment touch the body, which is lowered 
into the grave after some of the red cloths have been 
removed. A mound is raised over the grave, a stone 
placed at the head, another at the feet, and a third in 
the centre. The funeral cortege, composed only of 
males, then returns to the house, and each member 
takes a purificatory bath. The red cloths are torn into 
narrow strips, and a strip handed over as a sacred object 
to a relative of the deceased. Meanwhile, each relative 
having on arrival paid a little money to the house people, 
toddy is purchased, and served to the assembly. The 
mourners in the house have to fast on the day of the 
death. Next morning they have a bath, paddy is 
pounded, and gruel prepared for the abstainers. An 
elder of the community, the Avakasi, prepares a little 
basket of green palm leaves. He takes this basket, and 
hangs it on a tree in the southern part of the compound 
(grounds). The gruel is brought out, and placed on a 
mortar in the same part of the compound. Spoons are 
made out of jack (Artocarpus integrifolid) leaves, and 
the elder serves out the gruel. Then the relatives, who 
have gathered again, make little gifts of money and rice 
to the house people. Vegetable curry and rice are 
prepared, and served to the visitors. A quaint ceremony 
called ooroonulka is next gone through. A measure of 
rice and a measure of paddy in husk are mixed, and 
divided into two shares. Four quarter-anna pieces are 
placed on one heap, and eight on the other. The 
former share is made over to the house people, and from 
the latter the Avakasi removes four of the coins, and 
presents one to each of the four leading men present. 
These four men must belong to the four several points 
of the compass. The remaining copper is taken by the 


elder. From his share of rice and paddy he gives a 
little to be parched and pounded. This is given after- 
wards to the inmates. The visitors partake of betel and 
disperse, being informed that the Polla or post-obituary 
ceremony will come off on the thirteenth day. On the 
forenoon of this day, the relatives again gather at the 
mourning place. The inmates of the house bathe, and 
fish and rice are brought for a meal. A little of the fish 
is roasted over a fire, and each one present just nibbles 
at it. This is done to end pollution. After this the fish 
may be freely eaten. Half a seer or a measure of rice 
is boiled, reduced to a pulpy mass, and mixed with 
turmeric powder. Parched rice and the powder that 
remains after the rice has been pounded, a cocoanut and 
tender cocoanut, some turmeric powder, plantain leaves, 
and the rice that was boiled and coloured with turmeric, 
are then taken to the burial ground by the Avakasi, a 
singer known as a Kalladi or Moonpatkaren, and one or 
two close relatives of the departed. With the pulped 
rice the elder moulds the form of a human being. At 
the head of the grave a little mound is raised, cabalistic 
lines are drawn across it with turmeric, and boiled rice 
powder and a plantain leaf placed over the lines. The 
cocoanut is broken, and its kernel cut out in rings, each 
of which is put over the effigy, which is then placed 
recumbent on the plantain leaf. Round the mound, 
strings of jungle leaves are placed. Next the elder 
drives a pole into the spot where the chest of the dead 
person would be, and it is said that the pole must touch 
the chest. On one side of the pole the tender cocoanut 
is cut and placed, and on the other a shell containing 
some toddy. Then a little copper ring is tied on to the 
top of the pole, oil from a shell is poured over the ring, 
and the water from the tender cocoanut and toddy are 


in turn similarly poured. After this mystic rite, the 
Kalladi starts a mournful dirge in monotone, and the 
other actors in the solemn ceremony join in the chorus. 
The chant tells of the darkness and the nothingness that 
were before the creation of the world, and unfolds a 
fanciful tale of how the world came to be created. The 
chant has the weird refrain Oh ! ho ! Oh ! ho. On its 
conclusion, the effigy is left at the head of the grave, 
but the Kalladi takes away the pole with him. The 
performers bathe and return to the house of mourning, 
where the Kalladi gets into a state of afflation. The 
spirit of the departed enters into him, and speaks through 
him, telling the mourners that he is happy, and does not 
want them to grieve over much for him. The Kalladi 
then enters the house, and, putting a heap of earth in 
the corner of the centre room, digs the pole into it. A 
light is brought and placed there, as also some toddy, a 
tender cocoanut, and parched rice. The spirit of the 
deceased, speaking again through the Kalladi, thanks 
his people for their gifts, and beseeches them to think 
occasionally of him, and make him periodical offerings. 
The assembly then indulge in a feed. Rice and paddy 
are mixed together and divided into two portions, to 
one of which eight quarter-annas, and to the other 
twelve quarter-annas are added. The latter share falls 
to the Avakasi, while from the former the mixture and 
one quarter-anna go to the Kalladi, and a quarter-anna 
to each of the nearest relatives. The basket which had 
been hung up earlier in the day is taken down and 
thrown away, and the jenmi's spade is returned to him." # 
It is noted by Mr. Logan that "the Cherumans, like 
other classes, observe death pollution. But, as they 

* Madras Mail, 1895. 


cannot at certain seasons afford to be idle for fourteen 
days consecutively, they resort to an artifice to obtain 
this end. They mix cow-dung and paddy, and make it 
into a ball, and place the ball in an earthen pot, the 
mouth of which they carefully close with clay. The pot 
is laid in a corner of the hut, and, as long as it remains 
unopened, they remain free from pollution, and can mix 
among their fellows. On a convenient day they open 
the pot, and are instantly seized with pollution, which 
continues for forty days. Otherwise fourteen days 
consecutive pollution is all that is required. On the 
forty-first or fifteenth day, as the case may be, rice is 
thrown to the ancestors, and a feast follows." 

The following account of the death ceremonies is 
given by Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer. " When a Pulayan 
is dead, the castemen in the neighbourhood are informed. 
An offering is made to the Kodungallur Bhagavati, who 
is believed by the Pulayas to watch over their welfare, 
and is regarded as their ancestral deity. Dead bodies 
are generally buried. The relatives, one by one, bring 
a new piece of cloth, with rice and paddy tied at its four 
corners, for throwing over the corpse. The cloth is 
placed thereon, and they cry aloud three times, beating 
their breasts, after which they retire. A few Parayas 
are invited to beat drums, and play on their musical 
instruments — a performance which is continued for an 
hour or two. After this, a few bits of plantain leaves, 
with rice flour and paddy, are placed near the corpse, 
to serve as food for the spirit of the dead. The bier is 
carried to the graveyard by six bearers, three on each 
side. The pit is dug, and the body covered with a piece 
of cloth. After it has been lowered into it, the pit is 
filled in with earth. Twenty-one small bits of leaves are 
placed over the grave, above the spot where the mouth 


of the dead man is, with a double-branched twig fixed 
to the centre, a cocoanut is cut open, and its water is 
allowed to flow in the direction of the twig which 
represents the dead man's mouth. Such of the members 
of the family as could not give him kanji (rice gruel) or 
boiled rice before death, now give it to him. The six 
coffin-bearers prostrate themselves before the corpse, 
three on each side of the grave. The priest then puts 
on it a ripe and tender cocoanut for the spirit of the 
dead man to eat and drink. Then all go home, and 
indulge in toddy and aval (beaten rice). The priest gets 
twelve measures of rice, the grave-diggers twelve annas, 
the Vallon two annas, and the coffin-bearers each an 
anna. The son or nephew is the chief mourner, who 
erects a mound of earth on the south side of the hut, 
and uses it as a place of worship. For seven days, both 
morning and evening, he prostrates himself before it, 
and sprinkles the water of a tender cocoanut on it. On 
the eighth day, his relatives, friends, the Vallon, and the 
devil-driver assemble together. The devil-driver turns 
round and blows his conch, and finds out the position of 
the ghost, whether it has taken up its abode in the 
mound, or is kept under restraint by some deity. Should 
the latter be the case, the ceremony of deliverance has 
to be performed, after which the spirit is set up as a 
household deity. The chief mourner bathes early in 
the morning, and offers a rice-ball (pinda bali) to the 
departed spirit. This he continues for fifteen days. On 
the morning of the sixteenth day, the members of the 
family bathe to free themselves from pollution, and their 
enangan cleans the hut and the compound by sweeping 
and sprinkling water mixed with cow -dung. He also 
sprinkles the members of the family, as they return after 
the bath. The chief mourner gets shaved, bathes, and 
ii— 6 


returns to the hut. Some boiled rice, paddy, and pieces 
of cocoanut, are placed on a plantain leaf, and the chief 
mourner, with the members of his family, calls on the 
spirit of the dead to take them. Then they all bathe, 
and return home. The castemen, who have assembled 
there by invitation, are sumptuously fed. The chief 
mourner allows his hair to grow as a sign of mourning 
(diksha), and, after the expiry of the year, a similar feast 
is given to the castemen." 

The Cherumans are said by Mr. Gopal Panikkar to 
" worship certain gods, who are represented by rude 
stone images. What few ceremonies are in force 
amongst them are performed by priests selected from 
their own ranks, and these priests are held in great 
veneration by them. They kill cocks as offerings to 
these deities, who are propitiated by the pouring on 
some stones placed near them of the fresh blood that 
gushes from the necks of the birds." The Cherumans 
are further said to worship particular sylvan gods, garden 
deities, and field goddesses. In a note on cannibalism,* 
the writer states that " some sixteen years ago a Nair 
was murdered in Malabar by some Cherumans. The 
body was mutilated, and, on my asking the accused 
(who freely confessed their crime) why had this been 
done ? they answered ' Tinnal papam tirum, i.e., if one 
eats, the sin will cease'." It is a common belief among 
various castes of Hindus that one may kill, provided it 
is done for food, and this is expressed in the proverb 
Konnapavam thinnal thirum, or the sin of killing is 
wiped away by eating. The Cheruman reply probably 
referred only to the wreaking of vengeance, and conse- 
quent satisfaction, which is often expressed by the 

* Ind. Ant., VIII, 1879- 


lower classes in the words pasi thirndadu, or hunger is 

Concerning the religion of the Pulayas, Mr. Anantha 
Krishna Iyer writes as follows. " The Pulayas are 
animists, but are slowly coming on to the higher forms 
of worship. Their gods are Parakutty, Karinkutty, 
Chathan, and the spirits of their ancestors. Offerings 
to these gods are given on Karkadaka and Makara 
Sankrantis, Onam, Vishu, and other auspicious days, 
when one of the Pulayas present turns Velichapad 
(oracle), and speaks to the assembly as if by inspiration. 
They are also devout worshippers of Kali or Bhagavati, 
whose aid is invoked in all times of danger and illness. 
They take part in the village festivals celebrated in 
honour of her. Kodungallur Bhagavati is their guardian 
deity. The deity is represented by an image or stone 
on a raised piece of ground in the open air. Their priest 
is one of their own castemen, and, at the beginning of 
the new year, he offers to the goddess fowls, fruits, and 
toddy. The Pulayas also believe that spirits exercise 
an influence over the members of their families, and 
therefore regular offerings are given to them every year 
on Sankranti days. The chief festivals in which the 
Pulayas take part are the following : — 

i. Pooram Vela. — This, which may be described 
as the Saturnalia of Malabar, is an important festival 
held at the village Bhagavati temple. It is a festival, in 
which the members of all castes below Brahmans take 
part. It takes place either in Kumbham (February- 
March), or Meenam (March-April). The Cherumas of 
the northern part, as well as the Pulayas of the southern 
parts of the State, attend the festival after a sumptuous 
meal and toddy drinking, and join the procession. Toy 
horses are made, and attached to long bamboo poles, 



which are carried to the neighbourhood of the temple. 
As they go, they leap and dance to the accompaniment 
of pipe and drum. One among them who acts as a 
Velichapad (devil-dancer) goes in front of them, and, 
after a good deal of dancing and loud praying in honour 
of the deity, they return home. 

2. Vittu Iduka. — This festival consists in putting 
seeds, or bringing paddy seeds to the temple of the 
village Bhagavati. This also is an important festival, 
which is celebrated on the day of Bharani, the second 
lunar day in Kumbham. Standing at a distance 
assigned to them by the village authorities, where 
they offer prayers to Kali, they put the paddy grains, 
which they have brought, on a bamboo mat spread in 
front of them, after which they return home. In the 
Chittur taluk, there is a festival called Kathiru, cele- 
brated in honour of the village goddess in the month of 
Vrischikam (November-December), when these people 
start from the farms of their masters, and go in proces- 
sion, accompanied with the music of pipe and drum. A 
special feature of the Kathiru festival is the presence, at 
the temple of the village goddess, of a large number of 
dome-like structures made of bamboo and plantain 
stems, richly ornamented, and hung with flowers, leaves, 
and ears of corn. These structures are called sara- 
kootams, and are fixed on a pair of parallel bamboo 
poles. These agrestic serfs bear them in grand proces- 
sions, starting from their respective farms, with pipe and 
drum, shouting and dancing, and with fireworks. Small 
globular packets of palmyra leaves, in which are packed 
handfuls of paddy rolled up in straw, are also carried by 
them in huge bunches, along with the sarakootams. 
These packets are called kathirkootoos (collection of 
ears of corn), and are thrown among the crowd of 


spectators all along the route of the procession, and also 
on arrival at the temple. The spectators, young and 
old, scramble to obtain as many of the packets as 
possible, and carry them home. They are then hung in 
front of the houses, for it is believed that their presence 
will help in promoting the prosperity of the family until 
the festival comes round again next year. The greater 
the number of these trophies obtained for a family by 
its members, the greater, it is believed, will be the 
prosperity of the family. The festival is one of the very 
few occasions on which Pulayas and other agrestic serfs, 
who are supposed to impart, so to speak, a long distant 
atmospheric pollution, are freely allowed to enter villages, 
and worship in the village temples, which generally 
occupy central positions in the villages. Processions 
carrying sarakootams and kathirkootoos start from the 
several farms surrounding the village early enough to 
reach the temple about dusk in the evening, when the 
scores of processions that have made their way to the 
temple merge into one great concourse of people. The 
sarakootams are arranged in beautiful rows in front of 
the village goddess. The Cherumas dance, sing, and 
shout to their hearts content. Bengal lights are lighted, 
and fireworks exhibited. Kathirkootoos are thrown by 
dozens and scores from all sides of the temple. The 
crowd then disperses. All night, the Pulayas and 
other serfs, who have accompanied the procession to 
the temple, are, in the majority of cases, fed by their 
respective masters at their houses, and then all go 
back to the farms. 

3. Mandalam Vilakku. — This is a forty-one days' 
festival in Bhagavati temples, extending from the first 
of Vrischikam (November-December) to the tenth of 
Dhanu (December-January), during which temples are 


brightly illuminated both inside and outside at night. 
There is much music and drum-beating at night, and 
offerings of cooked peas or Bengal gram, and cakes, are 
made to the goddess, after which they are distributed 
among those present. The forty-first day, on which the 
festival terminates, is one of great celebration, when all 
castemen attend at the temple. The Cherumas, Mala- 
yars, and Eravallars attend the festival in Chittur. They 
also attend the Konga Pata festival there. In rural 
parts of the State, a kind of puppet show performance 
(olapava koothu) is acted by Kusavans (potters) and 
Tamil Chettis, in honour of the village deity, to which 
they contribute their share of subscription. They also 
attend the cock festival of Cranganore, and offer sacrifices 
of fowls." 

For the following note on the religion of the Pulayas 
of Travancore, I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani 
Iyer. " The Pulayas worship the spirits of deceased 
ancestors, known as Chavars. The Matan, and the 
Anchu Tamprakkal, believed by the better informed 
section of the caste to be the five Pandavas, are specially 
adored. The Pulayas have no temples, but raise squares 
in the midst of groves, where public worship is offered. 
Each Pulaya places three leaves near each other, 
containing raw rice, beaten rice, and the puveri (flowers) 
of the areca palm. He places a flower on each of these 
leaves, and prays with joined hands. Chavars are the 
spirits of infants, who are believed to haunt the earth, 
harassed by a number of unsatisfied cravings. This 
species of supernatural being is held in mingled respect 
and terror by Pulayas, and worshipped once a year with 
diverse offerings. Another class of deities is called 
Tevaratumpuran, meaning gods whom high caste Hindus 
are in the habit of worshipping at Parassalay ; the 


Pulayas are given certain special concessions on festival 
days. Similar instances may be noted at Ochira, 
Kumaranallur, and Nedumangad. At the last mentioned 
shrine, Mateer writes, * ' where two or three thousand 
people, mostly Sudras and Izhuvas, attend for the annual 
festival in March, one-third of the whole are Parayas, 
Kuravas, Vedars, Kanikkars, and Pulayas, who come 
from all parts around. They bring with them wooden 
models of cows, neatly hung over, and covered, in imita- 
tion of shaggy hair, with ears of rice. Many of these 
images are brought, each in a separate procession from 
its own place. The headmen are finely dressed with 
cloths stained purple at the edge. The image is borne 
on a bamboo frame, accompanied by a drum, and men 
and women in procession, the latter wearing quantities 
of beads, such as several strings of red, then several of 
white, or strings of beads, and then a row of brass 
ornaments like rupees, and all uttering the Kurava cry. 
These images are carried round the temple, and all 
amuse themselves for the day.' By far the most curious 
of the religious festivals of the Pulayas is what is known 
as the Pula Saturday in Makaram (January-February) 
at Sastamkotta in thef Kunnattur taluk. It is an old 
observance, and is most religiously gone through by 
the Pulayas every year. The Valluvan, or caste priest, 
leads the assembled group to the vicinity of the banyan 
tree in front of the temple, and offerings of a diverse 
nature, such as paddy, roots, plantain fruits, game, pulse, 
coins, and golden threads are most devoutly made. 
Pulayas assemble for this ceremony from comparatively 
distant places. A deity, who is believed to be the most 
important object of worship among the Pulayas, is Utaya 

* Native Life in Travancore. 


Tampuran, by which name they designate the rising sun. 
Exorcism and spirit-dancing are deeply believed in, and 
credited with great remedial virtues. The Kokkara, or 
iron rattle, is an instrument that is freely used to drive 
out evil spirits. The Valluvan who offers animal sacri- 
fices becomes immediately afterwards possessed, and 
any enquiries may be put to him without it being at all 
difficult for him to furnish a ready answer. In North 
Travancore, the Pulayas have certain consecrated build- 
ings of their own, such as Kamancheri, Omkara 
Bhagavathi, Yakshi Ampalam, Pey Koil, and Valiyapattu 
Muttan, wherein the Valluvan performs the functions of 
priesthood. The Pulayas believe in omens. To see 
another Pulaya, to encounter a Native Christian, to see 
an Izhuva with a vessel in the hand, a cow behind, a 
boat containing rice or paddy sacks, etc., are regarded 
as good omens. On the other hand, to be crossed by a 
cat, to see a fight between animals, to be encountered by 
a person with a bundle of clothes, to meet people carry- 
ing steel instruments, etc., are looked upon as very bad 
omens. The lizard is not believed to be a prophet, as 
it is by members of the higher castes." 

Concerning the caste government of the Pulayas of 
Travancore, Mr. Subramania Iyer writes as follows. 
" The Ayikkara Yajamanan, or Ayikkara Tamara (king) is 
the head of the Pulaya community. He lives at Vayalar 
in the Shertalley taluk in North Travancore, and takes 
natural pride in a lace cap, said to have been presented 
to one of his ancestors by the great Cheraman Perumal. 
Even the Parayas of North Travancore look upon him 
as their legitimate lord. Under the Tamara are two 
nominal headmen, known as Tatteri Achchan and 
Mannat Koil Vallon. It is the Ayikkara Tamara who 
appoints the Valluvans, or local priests, for every kara, 


for which they are obliged to remunerate him with a 
present of 336 chuckrams. The Pulayas still keep 
accounts in the earliest Travancorean coins (chuckrams). 
The Valluvan always takes care to obtain a written 
authority from the Tamara, before he begins his func- 
tions. For every marriage, a sum of 49 chuckrams and 
four mulikkas * have to be given to the Tamara, and 
eight chuckrams and one mulikka to the Valluvan. The 
Valluvan receives the Tamara's dues, and sends them to 
Vayalar once or twice a year. Beyond the power of 
appointing Valluvans and other office-bearers, the autho- 
rity of the Tamara extends but little. The Valluvans 
appointed by him prefer to call themselves Head Vallu- 
vans, as opposed to the dignitaries appointed in ancient 
times by temple authorities and other Brahmans, and 
have a general supervising power over the Pulayas of 
the territory that falls under their jurisdiction. Every 
Valluvan possesses five privileges, viz., (1) the long um- 
brella, or an umbrella with a long bamboo handle ; (2) 
the five-coloured umbrella ; (3) the bracelet of honour ; 
(4) a long gold ear-ring ; (5) a box for keeping betel 
leaves. They are also permitted to sit on stools, to make 
use of carpets, and to employ kettle-drums at marriage 
ceremonials. The staff of the Valluvan consists of (1) 
the Kuruppan or accountant, who assists the Valluvan 
in the discharge of his duties ; (2) the Komarattan or 
exorciser ; (3) the Kaikkaran or village representative ; 
(4) the Vatikkaran, constable or sergeant. The Kurup- 
pan has diverse functions to perform, such as holding 
umbrellas, and cutting cocoanuts from trees, on cere- 
monial occasions. The Vatikkaran is of special 
importance at the bath that succeeds a Pulaya girl's first 

* A mulikka is the collective name for a present of five betel leaves, one 
areca nut, and two tobacco leaves. 


menses. Adultery is looked upon as the most heinous 
of offences, and used to be met with condign punishment 
in times of old. The woman was required to thrust her 
hand into a vessel of boiling oil, and the man was 
compelled to pay a fine of 336 or 64 chuckrams, accord- 
ing as the woman with whom he connected himself was 
married or not, and was cast out of society after a most 
cruel rite called Ariyum Pirayum Tittukka, the precise 
nature of which does not appear to be known. A married 
woman is tried by the Valluvan and other officers, when 
she shows disobedience to her husband." 

It is noted by Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer, that, " in 
the Palghat taluk of South Malabar, it is said that the 
Cherumas in former times used to hold grand meetings 
for cases of theft, adultery, divorce, etc., at Kannati 
Kutti Vattal. These assemblies consisted of the members 
of their caste in localities between Valayar forests and 
Karimpuzha (in Valluvanad taluk), and in those between 
the northern and southern hills. It is also said that 
their deliberations used to last for several days together. 
In the event of anybody committing a crime, the punish- 
ment inflicted on him was a fine of a few rupees, or 
sometimes a sound thrashing. To prove his innocence, 
a man had to swear ' By Kannati Swarupam (assembly) 
I have not done it.' It was held so sacred that no 
Cheruman who had committed a crime would swear 
falsely by this assembly. As time went on, they found 
it difficult to meet, and so left off assembling together." 

In connection with the amusements of the Pulayas, 
Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer writes that " their games 
appear to be connected in some way with their religious 
observances. Their favourite dance is the kole kali, or 
club dance. A party of ten or twelve men, provided 
with sticks, each a yard in length, stand in a circle, and 



move round, striking at the sticks, keeping time with 
their feet, and singing at the same time. The circle is 
alternately widened and narrowed. Vatta kali is another 
wild dance. This also requires a party of ten or twelve 
men, and sometimes young women join them. The 
party move in a circle, clapping their hands while they 
sing a kind of rude song. In thattinmel kali, four 
wooden poles are firmly stuck in the ground, two of 
which are connected by two horizontal pieces of wood, 
over which planks are arranged. A party of Pulayas 
dance on the top of this, to the music of their pipe and 
drum. This is generally erected in front of the Bhaga- 
vati temple, and the dancing takes place immediately 
after the harvest. This is intended to propitiate the 
goddess. Women perform a circular dance on the 
occasions of marriage celebrations." 

The Cherumas and Pulayas are, like the Koragas 
of South Canara, short of stature, and dark-skinned. 
The most important measurements of the Cherumans 
whom I investigated at Calicut were as follows : — 

Stature, cm. 

Nasal index. 

Cephalic index. 










Cheruppu-katti (shoemaker). — Said to be a Mala- 
yalam synonym for Madiga. 

Chetti.— It is noted in the Census Report, 1891, that 
" the name Chetti is used both to denote a distinct caste, 
and also a title, and people bearing this title describe 
themselves loosely as belonging to the Chetti caste, in 
the same way as a Vellala will say that he is a Mudali. 


This use of Chetti has caused some confusion in the 
returns, for the sub-divisions show that many other castes 
have been included as well as Chetti proper." Again, 
in the Census Report, 1901, it is recorded that " Chetti 
means trader, and is one of those titular or occupational 
terms, which are often loosely employed as caste names. 
The weavers, oil pressers, and others use it as a title, 
and many more tack it on to their names, to denote that 
trade is their occupation. Strictly employed, it is never- 
theless, the name of a true caste." The Chettis are so 
numerous, and so widely distributed, that their many 
sub-divisions differ very greatly in their ways. The best 
known of them are the Beri Chettis, the Nagarattu 
Chettis, the Kasukkar Chettis, and the Nattukottai 
Chettis. Of these, the Beri and Nattukottai Chettis are 
dealt with in special articles. The following divisions 
of Chettis, inhabiting the Madura district, are recorded 
in my notes : — 

(a) Men with head clean-shaved : — 

Ilavagai or 




(6) Men with kudumi (hair knot) : — 

Puvaththukudi or Marayakkara. 

Mannagudi. Pandukudi or 

Kiramangalam. Manjapaththu. 

Of these, the Puvaththukudi Chettis, who receive 
their name from a village in the Tanjore district, are 
mostly itinerant petty traders and money-lenders, who 
travel about the country. They carry on their shoulders 
a bag containing their personal effects, except when they 


Periyakottai-vel Ian. 


Vallam or Tiruvappur. 



are cooking and sleeping. I am informed that the 
Puvaththukudi women engage women, presumably with 
a flow of appropriate language ready for the occasion, to 
abuse those with whom they have a quarrel. Among 
the Puvaththukudi Chettis, marriages are, for reasons of 
economy, only celebrated at intervals of many years. 
Concerning this custom, a member of the community 
writes to me as follows. " In our village, marriages are 
performed only once in ten or fifteen years. My own 
marriage was celebrated in the year Nandana (1892-93). 
Then seventy or eighty marriages took place. Since 
that time, marriages have only taken place in the present 
year (1906). The god at Avadaiyar kovil (temple) is 
our caste god. For marriages, we must receive from 
that temple garlands, sandal, and palanquins. We pay 
to the temple thirty-five rupees for every bridegroom 
through our Nagaraththar (village headmen). The 
expenses incurred in connection with the employment 
of washermen, barbers, nagasaram (musical instrument) 
players, talayaris (watchmen), carpenters, potters, black- 
smiths, gurukkals (priests), and garland-makers, are 
borne collectively and shared by the families in which 
marriages are to take place." Another Chetti writes 
that this system of clubbing marriages together is prac- 
tised at the villages of Puvaththukudi and Mannagudi, 
and that the marriages of all girls of about seven years 
of age and upwards are celebrated. The marriages are 
performed in batches, and the marriage season lasts over 
several months. 

Palayasengadam in the Trichinopoly district is the 
head-quarters of a section of the Chettis called the 
Pannirendam (twelfth) Chettis. "These are supposed 
to be descended from eleven youths who escaped long 
ago from Kaveripatnam, a ruined city in Tanjore. A 


Chola king, says the legend, wanted to marry a Chetti ; 
whereupon the caste set fire to the town, and only these 
eleven boys escaped. They rested on the Ratnagiri hill 
to divide their property ; but however they arranged 
it, it always divided itself into twelve shares instead of 
eleven. The god of Ratnagiri then appeared, and asked 
them to give him one share in exchange for a part of his 
car. They did so, and they now call themselves the 
twelfth Chettis from the number of the shares, and at 
their marriages they carry the bridegroom round in a 
car. They are said to be common in Coimbatore 
district." * 

At the census, 1871, some of the less fortunate 
traders returned themselves as " bankrupt Chettis." 

The following castes and tribes are recorded as having 
assumed the title Chetti, or its equivalent Setti : — 

Balija. Telugu trading caste. 

Bant. Tulu cultivating caste. 

Bilimagga, Devanga, Patnulkaran, Saliyan, Sedan, Seniyan. All 
weaving classes. 

Dhobi. Oriya washermen. 

Ganiga. Oil pressers. 

Gamalla. Telugu toddy-drawers. 

Gauda. Canarese cultivators. 

Gudigar. Canarese wood-carvers. 


Janappan. Said to have been originally a section of the Balijas, 
and manufacturers of gunny-bags. 

Kavarai. Tamil equivalent of Balija. 

Komati. Telugu traders. 

Koracha. A nomad tribe. 

Kudumi. A Travancore caste, which does service in the houses 
of Konkani Brahmans. 

Mandadan Chetti. 

Medara. Telugu cane splitters and mat makers. 

* Gazetteer of the Trichinopoly district. 


Nayar. Occupational title of some Nayars of Malabar. 
Pattanavan. Tamil fishermen. 
Pattapu. Fishermen in the Telugu country. 
Senaikkudaiyan. Tamil betel-vine growers and traders. 
Shanan. The great toddy-drawing class of the Tamil country. 
Sonar. Goldsmiths. 
Toreya. Canarese fishermen. 

Uppiliyan. Salt-workers. Some style themselves Karpura 
(camphor) Chetti, because they used to manufacture camphor. 
Vaniyan. Tamil oil-pressers. 
Wynaadan Chetti. 

Of proverbs relating to Chettis,* the following may- 
be quoted : — 

He who thinks before he acts is a Chetti, but he 

who acts without thinking is a fool. 
When the Chetti dies, his affairs will become 

She keeps house like a merchant caste woman, i.e., 

Though ruined, a Chetti is a Chetti, and, though 

torn, silk is still silk. 
The Chetti reduced the amount of advance, and 

the weaver the quantity of silk in the border of 

the cloth. 
From his birth a Chetti is at enmity with agri- 

In a note on secret trade languages Mr. C. Haya- 
vadana Rao writes as follows, f " The most interesting 
of these, perhaps, is that spoken by petty shopkeepers 
and cloth merchants of Madras, who are mostly Moodellys 
and Chettis by caste. Their business mostly consists in 
ready- money transactions, and so we find that they have 

* Rev. H. Jensen, Classified Collection of Tamil Proverbs, 1897. 
t Madras Mail, 1904. 


a regular table of numerals. Numbers one to ten have 
been given definite names, and they have been so long 
in use that most of them do not understand the meaning 
of the terms they use. Thus madi (mind) stands for one, 
mind being always represented in the Hindu shastras as 
a single thing. Vene (act or deed) stands for two, for 
vene is of two kinds only, nalvene and thivene or good 
and bad acts. Konam (quality) stands for three, since 
three different sorts of qualities are recognised in Hindu 
metaphysics. These are rajasam, thamasam, and sath- 
mikam. Shuruthi stands for four, for the Srutis or 
Vedas are four in numbers. Sara (arrow) stands for 
five, after Panchasara, the five-arrowed, a well-known 
name of Manmatha, the Indian Cupid. Matha repre- 
sents six, after the shan mathams or six systems of 
Hindu philosophy. There stands for seven, after the 
seven oceans recognised by the Sanskrit geographers. 
Giri (mountain) represents eight, since it stands for 
ashtagiri or the eight mountains of the Hindus. Mani 
stands for nine, after navamani, the nine different sorts 
of precious stones recognised by the Hindus. Thisai 
represents ten, from the ten points of the compass. The 
common name for rupee is velle or the white thing. 
Thangam velle stands for half a rupee, pinji velle for 
a quarter of a rupee, and pu velle for an eighth of a 
rupee. A fanam (or 1 J annas) is known as shulai. The 
principal objects with which those who use this language 
have to deal with are padi or measure, velle or rupee, 
and madi ana, one anna, so that madi padi means one 
measure, madi velle one rupee, and madi ana one anna. 
Similarly with the rest of the numerals. The merchants 
of Trichinopoly have nearly the same table of numerals, 
but the names for the fractions of a rupee vary consider- 
ably. Mundri ana is, with them, one anna ; e ana is two 


annas ; pu ana is four annas ; pani ana is eight annas 
and muna ana is twelve annas. Among them also velle 
stands for a rupee. They have besides another table of 
numerals in use, which is curious as being formed by 
certain letters of the Tamil alphabet. Thus pina stands 
for one, lana for two, laina for three, yana for four, lina 
for five, mana for six, vana for seven, nana for eight, 
thina for nine, and thuna for ten. These letters have 
been strung into the mnemonic phrase Pillayalam Van- 
thathu, which literally means ' the children have come '. 
This table is also used in connection with measures, 
rupees, and annas. Dealers in coarse country-made 
cloths all over Madras and the Chingleput district 
have a table of their own. It is a very complete one 
from one pie to a thousand rupees. Occasionally Hindu 
merchants are found using a secret language based on 
Hindustani. This is the case in one part of Madras 
city. With them pav khane stands for one anna, 
ada khane for fwo annas, pavak ruppe for one rupee, 
and so on. Brokers have terms of their own. The 
Tamil phrase padiya par, when used by them, means 
ask less or say less, according as it is addressed to the 
purchaser or seller. Similarly, mudukka par means ask 
a higher price. When a broker says Sivan thambram, it 
is to be inferred that the price given out by the seller 
includes his own brokerage. Telugu brokers have 
similar terms. Among them, the phrase Malasu vakkadu 
and Nasi vakkadu denote respectively increase the rate, 
and decrease the rate stated." 

Chevvula (ears). — An exogamous sept of Boya and 


Cheyyakkaran.— A Malayalam form of the Cana- 

rese Servegara. 

Chikala (broom).— An exogamous sept of Tottiyan. 


Chikka (small). — A sub-division of Kurni. 

Chikkudu {Dolickos Lablab). — An exogamous sept 
of Muka Dora. 

Chilakala (paroquet). — An exogamous sept of 
Boya, Kapu and Yanadi. 

Chilla {Strycknos potatorum : clearing-nut tree). — 
An exogamous sept of Kuruba, and sub-division of 

Chimala (ant). — An exogamous sept of Boya and 

Chimpiga (tailor). — Recorded, in the Madras 
Census Report, 1 901, as a Lingayat sub-caste of Rangari. 
In the Mysore Census Report, 1901, Darjis are classified 
as follows : — " (1) Darji, Chippiga, or Namdev ; (2) 
Rangare." The first three, known by the collective 
name of Darji, are professional tailors, while the Rangares 
are also dyers and calico printers. 

Chimpiri (rags). — An exogamous sept of Boya. 

Chinerigadu.— A class of mendicants connected 
with the Padma Sales. {See Devanga.) 

Chinda.— Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 
1 90 1, as a small caste of Oriya cultivators in Ganjam and 

Chinese-Tamil Cross.— Halting in the course of 
an anthropological expedition on the western side of the 
Nilgiri plateau, I came across a small settlement of 
Chinese, who have squatted for some time on the slopes 
of the hills between Naduvatam and Gudalur and 
developed, as the result of alliances with Tamil Pariah 
women, into a colony, earning a modest livelihood by 
cultivating vegetables and coffee. 

The original Chinese who arrived on the Nilgiris were 
convicts from the Straits Settlement, where there was 
no sufficient prison accommodation, who were confined 


in the Nllgiri jail. It is recorded * that, in 1868, twelve 
of the Chinamen " broke out during a very stormy night, 
and parties of armed police were sent out to scour the 
hills for them. They were at last arrested in Malabar a 
fortnight later. Some police weapons were found in 
their possession, and one of the parties of police had 
disappeared — an ominous circumstance. Search was 
made all over the country for the party, and at length 
their four bodies were found lying in the jungle at 
Walaghat, half way down the Sispara ghat path, neatly 
laid out in a row with their severed heads carefully 
placed on their shoulders." 

The measurements of a single family are recorded in 
the following table : — 

23 <S 

2 u> 



CO 4) 



d a 

Tamil Paraiyan. 

Mother of children. 








Father of children. 







Chinese-Tamil ... 

Girl, aged 18 







Chinese-Tamil ... 

Boy, aged 10 







Chinese-Tamil ... 

Boy, aged 9 




4 '4 



Chinese-Tamil ... 

Boy, aged 5 




4 - l 



The father was a typical Chinaman, whose only 
grievance was that, in the process of conversion to 
Christianity, he had been obliged to " cut him tail off." 
The mother was a typical dark-skinned Tamil Paraiyan. 
The colour of the children was more closely allied to the 
yellowish tint of the father than to that of the mother ; 
and the semi- Mongol parentage was betrayed in the 

* Gazetteer of the Nilgiris. 

II— 7 B 


slant eyes, flat nose and (in one case) conspicuously 
prominent cheek-bones. 

To have recorded the entire series of measurements 
of the children would have been useless for the purpose 
of comparison with those of the parents, and I selected 
from my repertoire the length and breadth of the head 
and nose, which plainly indicate the paternal influence 
on the external anatomy of the offspring. The figures 
given in the table bring out very clearly the great 
breadth, as compared with the length, of the heads of all 
the children, and the resultant high cephalic index. In 
other words, in one case a mesaticephalic (79), and, in 
the remaining three cases, a sub-brachycephalic head 
(8o*i ; 8o'i ; 82*4) has resulted from the union of a 
mesaticephalic Chinaman (78*5) with a sub-dolichoce- 
phalic Tamil Paraiyan (76*8). How great is the breadth 
of the head in the children may be emphasised by 
noting that the average head-breadth of the adult Tamil 
Paraiyan man is only 137 cm., whereas that of the three 
boys, aged ten, nine, and five only, was 14*3, 14, and 
137 cm. respectively. 

Quite as strongly marked is the effect of paternal 
influence on the character of the nose ; the nasal index, 
in the case of each child (68*i ; 71772; 7; 68 - 3), bearing 
a much closer relation to that of the long-nosed father 
(717) than to the typical Paraiyan nasal index of the 
broad-nosed mother (787). 

It will be interesting to note hereafter what is the 
future of the younger members of this quaint little 
colony, and to observe the physical characters, tempera- 
ment, fecundity, and other points relating to the cross 
breed resulting from the blend of Chinese and Tamil. 

Chinna (little). — A sub-division of Boya, Kunnu- 
van, Konda Dora, Pattanavan, and Pattapu, and an 


exogamous sept of Mala. Chinna, chinnam, and chin- 
nada, denoting gold, occur as exogamous septs of Kuruba, 
Padma Sale, Toreya, and Vakkaliga. 

Chintala (tamarind : Tamarindus Indica). — An exo- 
gamous sept of Ghasi, Golla, Madiga, and Mala. Chin- 
tyakula, or tamarind sept, occurs among the Komatis ; 
chintaginjala (tamarind seeds) as an exogamous sept 
of Padma Sales, and of Panta Reddis, who may not 
touch or use the seeds ; and Chintakai or Chintakayala 
(tamarind fruit) as an exogamous sept of Boyas and 

Chirla (woman's cloth). — An exogamous sept of 

Chitikan.-— A synonym of Maran, indicating one 
whose occupation relates to the funeral pyre. A Chiti- 
kan, for example, performs the funeral rites for the 

Chiti Karnam. — A name of the Oriya Karnam 
caste. A vulgar form of Sresta Karnam (Sreshto 

Chitra Ghasi.— The Chitra Ghasis, for the following 
note on whom I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana 
Rao, are a class of artisans, whose name, meaning 
Ghasis who make artistic things, bears reference to their 
occupation. They are employed in the manufacture of 
brass and bell-metal jewelry, such as is largely worn by 
the tribes inhabiting the Jeypore Agency tracts, and are 
generally found attached to Kond and Savara villages. 
They are a polluting class, and their dwellings are 
consequently situated at some distance from the huts of 
the villagers. Their language is a corrupt form of Oriya. 

Girls are usually married after puberty. A man can 
claim his paternal aunt's daughter in marriage. When 
such a marriage is contemplated, his parents take a 


little rice and a pot of liquor to the home of the paternal 
aunt. If they are accepted, it is taken as a sign that the 
match is agreed to, and the jholla tonka (bride-price) of 
twelve rupees is paid. After some time has elapsed, the 
bride is conducted to the home of her future husband, 
and the marriage is there celebrated. A younger 
brother may marry the widow of an elder brother, and, 
if such a woman contracts a marriage with some other 
man, her second husband has to give a cow to the 
younger brother who has been passed over. The dead 
are burnt, and death pollution is observed for three days, 
during which the caste occupation is not carried on. On 
the third day, the ashes are collected together, and a 
fowl is killed. The ashes are then buried, or thrown 
into running water. 

Chitrakara or Chitrakaro. — The Chitrakaros of 
Ganjam, who are a class of Oriya painters (chitra, 
painting), are returned in the Census Report, iqoi, as 
a sub-caste of Muchi. In the Mysore Census Report, 
1 89 1, the Chitragaras are said to be "also called Ban- 
nagara of the Rachevar (or Raju) caste. They are 
painters, decorators and gilders, and make trunks, palan- 
quins, ' lacquer ' toys and wooden images for temples, 
cars, etc." At Channapatna in Mysore, I interviewed a 
Telugu Chitrakara, who was making toys out of the 
white wood of Wrightia tinctoria. The wood was turned 
on a primitive lathe, consisting of two steel spikes fixed 
into two logs of wood on the ground. Seated on the 
floor in front of his lathe, the artisan chucked the wood 
between the spikes, and rotated it by means of a bow 
held in the right hand, whereof the string was passed 
round the wood. The chisel was held between the sole 
of the right foot and palm of the left hand. Colours 
and varnish were applied to the rotating toy with sticks 

103 CHUN AM 

of paint like sealing-wax, and strips of palm leaf smeared 
with varnish. In addition to the turned toys, models of 
fruits were made from mud and sawdust, cane cradles 
made by Medaras were painted and idols manufactured 
for the Holi festival at Bangalore, and the figure of Sidi 
Viranna for the local pseudo-hook-swinging ceremony. 
The Chitrakaras, whom I saw at Tumkur, had given 
up making toys, as it did not pay. They manufacture 
big wooden idols (grama devata), e.g., Ellamma and 
Mariamma, and vehicles for various deities in the 
shape of bulls, snakes, peacocks, lions, tigers, and horses. 
They further make painted figures of Lakshmi, and 
heads of Gauri, the wife of Siva, decorated with gold- 
leaf jewels, which are worshipped by Brahmans, Vakka- 
ligas, Komatis, and others at the annual Gauri puja ; 
and mandahasa (god houses) with pillars carved with 
figures of Narasimha and conventional designs. These 
mandahasas serve as a receptacle for the household 
gods (salagrama stone, lingam, etc.), which are worship- 
ped daily by Smarta and Madhva Brahmans. These 
Chitrakaras claimed to be Suryavamsam, or of the lunar 
race of Kshatriyas, and wear the sacred thread. 

Chitravaliar. — A synonym of Alavan. 

Chogan.— See Izhava. 

Cholapuram or Sholavaram. — A sub-division of 

Choliya Pattar. — A name for Pattar Brahmans in 

Chondi.— See Sondi. 

Choutagara.— A corrupt form of Chaptegara. 

Chovatton.— Priests of Muttans and Tarakans. 

Chuditiya. — See Kevuto. 

Chunam (lime). — A sub-division of Toreyas, who 
are manufacturers of lime. Chunam, made from calcined 


shells, limestone, etc., is largely used for building 
purposes, and the chunam plaster of Madras has been 
long celebrated for its marble-like polish. Chunam is 
also chewed with betel. 

Chuvano.— Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 
1 90 1, as a small Oriya cultivating caste, supposed to be 
of Kshatriya parentage. 

Daindla.— The name, denoting those who hid or 
ran away, of a sub-division of Mala. 

Daivampati.— Recorded in the Travancore Census 
Report, 1 901, as a caste included among Ambalavasis, 
and a sub-division of Nayar. 

Dakkala.— Dakkala or Dakkali is the name of a 
class of mendicants who beg from Madigas only. In 
the Kurnool district they are said to have divided 
the district with the Mushtis, and not to beg except 
within their own limits. 

The following story is told as regards the origin of 
the Dakkalas. A smith was asked to make a bottu 
(marriage badge) for Siva's wedding, and for this purpose 
required bellows, fire-pot, hammer, etc. Jambuvadu 
called his eldest son, and prepared the various imple- 
ments from sundry parts of the body, except the back- 
bone. Being highly pleased at this, the gods endowed 
the backbone with life, and the son went to his father 
Jambuvadu, who failed to recognise him, and refused to 
admit him. He was told that he must live as a beggar 
attached to the Madigas, and was called Dakkala because 
he was brought to life from a vertebral column (dakka). 

The Dakkalas wander from place to place. They 
may not enter Madiga houses, outside which meals are 

105 DAKNI 

given to them by males only, as females are not allowed 
to serve them. Madiga women may not tread on the 
footsteps of the Dakkalas. 

Dakku (fear). — An exogamous sept of Mala. 

Dakni.— Dakni or Deccani is defined in the Madras 
Census Report, 1901, as "a territorial name meaning a 
Musalman of the Deccan ; also a name loosely applied 
to converts to Islam." In the Tanjore district, Muham- 
madans who speak Hindustani, and claim pure Muham- 
madan descent, are spoken of as Daknis or Dakanis. 
In other Tamil districts they are called Patanigal, to 
distinguish them from Labbais and Marakkayars. The 
Daknis follow the Muhammadan ritual except in their 
marriages, which afford an example of a blend between 
Hindu and Muhammadan ceremonials. Like Hindus, 
they erect, at times of marriage, a milk-post of bamboo, 
to which are tied a two-anna piece, and a bit of sugar- 
candy done up in a Turkey red cloth. The post is 
handed to the headman, who decorates it with a garland 
of flowers and a roll of betel, and places it in a hole made 
in the court -yard of the house, wherein milk has been 
sprinkled. On the following day, two big pots are 
placed near the milk-post, and filled with water by four 
married couples. Around the pots, nine kinds of seed 
grains are sprinkled. On the third day, the bride- 
groom's party proceeds to the house of the bride 
with thirteen trays of betel, fruits, flowers, sandal paste, 
and a paste made of turmeric and henna (Lawsonia 
alba) leaves. The bride is decorated, and sits on a 
plank. Women smear the face and hands of the bridal 
couple with the pastes, and one of them, or the bride- 
groom's sister, ties a string of black beads round the 
bride's neck. While this is being done, no one should 
sneeze. Wrist threads (kankanam) are tied on the 


wrists of the bride and bridegroom. On the fourth day, 
the nikka rite is celebrated, and the newly-married 
couple sit together while the nalagu ceremony of smear- 
ing them with sandal, and waving coloured water 
(arati), is performed. The two pots containing water 
are kept for forty days, and then examined. If the 
water remains sweet, and does not " teem with vermin," 
it is regarded as a good omen. The seed grains, too, 
should by this time have developed into healthy 

Dammula.— Recorded, in the Madras Census Re- 
port, 1 90 1, as a small class of Telugu beggars, and 
priests in the temples of village goddesses. 

Dandasi.— The Dandasis are summed up in the 
Ganjam Manual as being village watchmen, many of 
whom are great thieves. " It is curious," Mr. S. P. Rice 
writes,* " to find that the word Naiko [meaning leader or 
chief], which is corrupted into the Telugu Naidu, is the 
caste distinction of the lowest class, the village watcher 
and professional thief. This man, for all that his cog- 
nomen is so lofty, goes by the generic name of Dandasi. 
This word means worthy of punishment, and assuredly 
no appellation ever fitted its owner more completely than 
does this. He is the village policeman and the village 
thief, a curious mixture of callings." According to other 
versions, the name is derived from danda, a stick, and 
asi, sword, from dandabadi, a stout bamboo stick, or from 
dandapasi, stick and rope, in reference to the insignia of 
the Dandasi's office. 

A large number of criminals, undergoing punishment 
in Ganjam for robbery and thieving, are Dandasis. 
The members of the caste, like the Tamil Kalians, believe 

* Occasional Essays on Native South Indian Life. 


that thieving is their traditional occupation, and, as such, 
regard it as justifiable. There is a legend that they 
adopted this occupation as their profession because their 
ancestors assisted the Pandavas to escape from the lac 
fort which was constructed by the Kurus with a view to 
killing them, by digging a secret subterranean passage. 
According to another story, the Dandasis are descended 
from the offspring of a clandestine amour of Krishna 
with Dhuthika, Radha's handmaid. The Dandasis 
perform an interesting ceremony of initiation into the 
profession of thieving, when a child is born. When it 
is three or five days old, the headman (Behara) is 
invited to attend. A breach is made in the wall, or 
beneath the door sill. Through this the infant is passed 
by the Behara three times, and received by some 
members of the family. Each time the Behara repeats 
the words " Enter, baby enter. May you excel your 
father ! " The Dandasis, when questioned concerning 
this custom, denied its existence, but some admitted 
that it was carried out in former days. An old woman 
stated that her grandchild was passed through a breach 
beneath the door, but was not inclined to enter into 

A number of exogamous septs occur among the 
Dandasis, of which the following may be noted. Mem- 
bers of the Santarasi sept must avoid using mats made 
of the sedge which goes by this name. Kilalendias avoid 
touching the bamboo posts used by washermen to sup- 
port the ropes on which cloths are hung to dry. They 
sacrifice a pig and seven fowls to their gods on the new- 
moon day, on which the head of a male child is first 
shaved. Diyasis show special reverence for the sun, and 
cloths, mokkutos (forehead chaplets), garlands, and other 
articles to be used by the bride and bridegroom at a 


wedding, are placed outside the house, Iso that they may 
be exposed to it. Members of the Ekopothiriya sept are 
regarded as low in the social scale, and the following 
legend is narrated to account for this. A Dandasi went, 
with his relations and friends, to the house of a Dandasi 
of the Ekopothiriya sept, to arrange a marriage. The 
guests were hospitably received, and the prospective 
bride asked her father what kind of curry was going to 
be served to them. He replied that barikolora (back- 
yard Momordica) * was to be cooked. This aroused the 
curiosity of some of the guests, who went to the backyard, 
where, instead of Momordica, they saw several blood- 
suckers (lizards) running about. They jumped to the 
conclusion that these were what the host referred to 
as barikolora, and all the guests took their departure. 
Ekopothiriyas will not partake of food from the same 
plate as their grown-up children, even if a married 
daughter comes on a visit' to them. 

The Dandasis worship various Takuranis (village 
deities), e.g., Sankaithuni, Kulladankuni, Kombesari and 
Kalimuki. The gods are either represented tempo- 
rarily by brass vessels, or permanently by three masses 
of clay, into each of which a small bit of gold is thrust. 
When Bassia (mahua) buds or mangoes are first eaten in 
their season, a sacrifice is made, and a goat and fowl 
are killed before the produce of the harvest is first 
partaken of. 

The Dandasis have a headman, called Behara, who 
exercises authority over several groups of villages, and 
each group is under a Nayako, who is assisted by a 
Dondia. For every village there is a Bholloboya, and, 
in some places, there is an officer, called Boda Mundi, 

* The fruits of several species of Momordica are eaten by Natives. 


appointed by the Zamindar, to whom irregularities in 
the community have to be reported. When a woman is 
delivered of a still-born child, the whole family is under 
pollution for eleven days. The headman is then invited 
to attend, and presents are given to him. He sprinkles 
water over members of the family, and they are thereby 
freed from this pollution. 

A certain portion of the property stolen by Dandasis 
is set apart for the headman, and, like the Tamil 
Kalians and Maravans, they seem to have a black- 
mailing system. If a Dandasi is engaged as a watch- 
man, property is safe, or, if stolen, is recovered and 
restored to its owner. 

Girls are married after puberty. A man may marry 
his maternal uncle's, but not his paternal aunt's 
daughter. The marriage ceremonies usually last three 
days, but are sometimes spread over seven days, in 
imitation of the higher castes. On the day (gondo 
sono) before the wedding day, seven new pots are 
brought from a potter's house, and placed in a room. 
Seven women throw Zizyphus jujuba leaves over them, 
and they are filled with water at a tank (pond). One 
of the pots must be carried by the sister-in-law of the 
bridegroom. A brass vessel is tied up, and worshipped. 
Towards evening, a fowl is sacrificed at an ' ant ' hill. 
The bridegroom is shaved on this day by his sister's 
husband. Like other Oriya castes, the Dandasis collect 
water at seven houses, but only from those of members 
of castes higher than their own. The pot containing 
this water is hung up over the marriage dais (bedi). 
On the wedding (bibha) day, the bridegroom sits on 
the dais, with the bride, seated in her maternal uncle's 
lap or at his side, in front of him. The headman, 
or some respected elder of the community, places a 


betel nut cutter, on, or with some rice and betel nut be- 
tween the united hands of the contracting couple, and 
ties them together with seven turns of a turmeric-dyed 
thread. He then announces that .... the grand- 
daughter of ... . and daughter of .... is 
united to ... . the grandson of ... . and 
son of ... . The parents of the bride and bride- 
groom pour turmeric-water from a chank (Turbinella 
rapa) shell or leaf over their united hands. The nut- 
cutter is removed by the bride's brother, and, after 
striking the bridegroom, he goes away. The couple 
then play with cowry {Cypi'ce arabicd) shells, and, while 
they are so engaged, the ends of their cloths are tied 
together, and the rice which is in their hands is tied in a 
knot. When the play is finished, this knot is untied, 
and the rice is measured in a small earthen pot, first 
on behalf of the bride, and is pronounced to be all right. 
It is then again measured, and said to have diminished 
in quantity. This gives rise to jokes at the expense 
of the bridegroom, who is called a thief, and other 
hard names. Those who imitate the ceremonial of 
the higher castes make the bridegroom go away in 
feigned anger, after he has broken the pot which is 
hanging over the dais. He is brought back by his 

On the occasion of the first menstrual period, a girl 
is under pollution for seven days. If she is engaged to 
be married, her future father-in-law makes her a present 
of jewels and money on the seventh day, and thereby 
confirms the marriage contract. 

The dead are cremated. A widow accompanies the 
corpse of her husband to the boundary of the village, 
carrying a ladle and pot, which she throws down at 
the boundary, and returns home. On the day after the 

1 1 1 DARA 

funeral, the embers are extinguished, and an effigy 
of the deceased is made on the spot where he was 
cremated, and food offered to it. Toddy is distributed 
among those who have assembled at the house. On 
the tenth day, food is offered on ten fragments of pots. 
On the eleventh day, if the dead man was an important 
personage in the community, a ceremony, corresponding 
to the jola jola handi of the higher castes, is performed. 
A cloth is spread on the ground, on the spot where the 
corpse was cremated, and the ground round it swept by 
women, whose backs are turned towards the cloth, so 
that they cannot see it. Two men, with swords or big 
knives, sit by the side of the cloth and wait till an insect 
settles on the cloth. They then at once put the swords 
or knives on the cloth, and, folding it up, place it on a 
new winnowing-basket. It is taken home, placed on 
the floor, and connected by means of a long thread with 
the household god (mass of clay or vessel). It is then 
shaken near the god, so that the insect falls out. 

Dandasi further occurs as a sub-division of the 
Kondras, the members of which have taken to the 
profession of village watchmen. 

Dandi (a staff). — A house name of Korava. 

Dandu (army). — A sub-division of Idiga, and an 
exogamous sept of Boya and Kapu. It has been 
suggested that the name is not Dandu but Dande, 
meaning pole, in reference to the apparatus used by 
the Idigas in climbing palm trees for the extraction 
of toddy. Dandu Agasa, indicating army washerman, 
occurs as a name for some Maratha Dhobis in Mysore, 
whose forefathers probably accompanied armies in times 
of war. 

Dara (stream of water). — An exogamous sept of 


Darabala. — Taken, in the Madras Census Report, 
1 90 1, as a sub-caste of Mala. It is a common house- 
name among many Telugu castes. 

Darala (thread). — An exogamous sept of Madiga. 

Darzi.-— Darzi or Darji is a Muhammadan occupa- 
tional term, meaning tailor. " The east," it has been 
said,* " now sews by machinery. The name of Singer 
is known from the Mediterranean to the Pacific. In 
every bazaar in India one may see men — they are 
always men, not women — in turban or Mussalman cap, 
crouching over the needle-plate, and working the 
pedals." The value of the imports of sewing-machines 
rose, in British India, from Rs. 5,91,046 in 1901-02 
to Rs. 10,06,625 in 1904-05. 

Das.— The title of Jain immigrants from Northern 
India, most of whom are established as merchants, and 
also of the Mahants of the Tirumala (Tirupati) temple, 
e.g., Balaram Das, Bhagavan Das. 

Dasari. — " Dasari or Tadan," Mr. H. A. Stuart 
writes, t " is a mendicant caste of Vaishnavas, the reputed 
descendants of a wealthy Sudra of one of the northern 
districts, who, being devoid of offspring, vowed that, 
should he be blessed with children, he would devote one 
to the service of his god. He subsequently had many 
sons, one of whom he named Dasan (servant), and placed 
entirely at the service of the deity. Dasan forfeited 
all claim to participate in his father's estate, and his 
offspring are therefore all beggars. 

" The caste, like that of the Satanis, is reinforced by 
idle members of the lower Sudra classes, who, being 
branded by the gurus of Tirupati and other shrines, 
become Dasaris thereby. They usually wander about, 

* Sidney Low. A Vision of India, 1906. 
t Manual of the North Arcot district. 


singing hymns to a monotonous accompaniment upon a 
leather instrument called tappai (tabret). Some Sudra 
castes engage them thus to chant in front of the corpse 
at funerals, and many, accompanying bands of pilgrims 
travelling to Tirupati, stimulate their religious excite- 
ment by singing sacred songs. A few, called Yerudandis, 
(q.v.) y take possession of young bulls that have been 
devoted to a swami, and teach them to perform tricks 
very cleverly. The bulls appear to understand what is 
said to them, and go through various antics at the word 
of command. Some Dasaris exhibit what is called the 
Panda Servai performance, which consists in affecting to 
be possessed by the spirit of the deity, and beating 
themselves all over the body with a flaming torch, after 
covering it probably with some protecting substance. 
In such modes do they wander about and receive alms, 
each wearing as a distinction a garland of beads made 
of tulasi {Ocimum sanctum) wood. Every Dasari is a 
Tengalai. They have six sub-divisions, called Balija, 
Janappa, Palli, Valluva, Gangeddula, and Golla Dasaris, 
which neither eat together nor intermarry. As these 
are the names of existing and distinct castes, it is 
probable that the Dasaris were formerly members of 
those classes, who, through their vagabond tastes, have 
taken to a mendicant life. Beyond prohibiting widow 
remarriage, they have no social restrictions." 

Concerning the mendicants of Anantapur, Mr. W. 
Francis writes # that "the beggars who are most in 
evidence are the Dasaris. This community is recruited 
from several castes, such as the Kapus, Balijas, Kurubas, 
Boyas, and Malas, and members of it who belong to the 
last two of these (which are low in the social scale) are 

* Gazetteer of the Anantapur district. 

DASARI 1 14 

not allowed to dine with the others. All Dasaris are 
Vaishnavites, and admission to the community is obtained 
by being branded by some Vaishnavite guru. Thence- 
forward the novice becomes a Dasari, and lives by 
begging from door to door. The profession is almost 
hereditary in some families. The five insignia of a 
Dasari are the conch shell, which he blows to announce 
his arrival ; the gong which he strikes as he goes his 
rounds ; the tall iron lamp (with a cocoanut to hold the 
oil for replenishing it) which he keeps lighted as he 
begs ; the brass or copper vessel (sometimes with the 
namam painted on it) suspended from his shoulder, in 
which he places the alms received ; and the small metal 
image of Hanuman, which he hangs round his neck. 
Of these, the iron lamp is at once the most conspicuous 
and the most indispensable. It is said to represent 
Venkatesa, and it must be burning, as an unlighted lamp 
is inauspicious. Dasaris also subsist by doing puja 
(worship) at ceremonial and festival occasions for certain 
of the Hindu castes." In the Kurnool district, when a 
girl is dedicated as a Basavi (dedicated prostitute), she 
is not, as in some other parts of the country, married to 
an idol, but tied by means of a garland of flowers to the 
tall standard lamp (garudakambham) of a Dasari, and 
released by the man who is to receive her first favours, 
or by her maternal uncle. 

The Dasaris in Mysore are described in the Mysore 
Census Report, 1901, as "mendicants belonging to 
different classes of Sudras. They become Dasas or 
servants dedicated to the God at Tirupati by virtue of a 
peculiar vow, made either by themselves or their rela- 
tives, at some moment of anxiety or danger, and live 
by begging in His name. Dasaris are always Vaish- 
navites, as the vows are taken only by those castes 

115 dAsari 

which are worshippers of that deity. Dasaris are invited 
by Sudras on ceremonial days, and feasted. Properly 
speaking, Dasari is not a caste, but simply an occupa- 
tional division. Among certain castes, the custom of 
taking a vow to become a Dasari prevails. In fulfilment 
of that vow the person becomes a Dasari, and his eldest 
son is bound to follow suit, the others taking to other 
walks of life. The following castes take the vow of 
becoming Dasari : — Telugu Banajiga, Holeya, Tigala, 
and Vakkaliga. The duty of a Dasari requires that he 
should daily bathe his head, and take care that, while 
eating with the profane, their victuals do not get mixed 
with his. Every Saturday, after bathing and praying 
for some hours, he must cook his own food in a clean 
pot. They go about the streets singing some Hari 
Keerthanams, with a gong and conch to relieve the dull 
monotony of their mumblings." 

Concerning the synonym Tadan, this is stated * to be 
" a corruption of the Sanskrit dasa which, with the Tamil 
termination an, stands for dasan. The word is often 
used in this form, but often as Dasari. The word is 
applied to Vaishnava mendicants. They go out every 
morning, begging for alms of uncooked rice, and singing 
ballads or hymns. They play on a small drum with their 
fingers, and often carry a conch shell, which they blow. 
They are given to drinking." In the Nellore Manual, 
the Dasrivandlu are summed up as being " mendicants 
and thieves in the Telugu and Canarese countries. 
They usually practise what is known as scissor-theft.' 
The mendicant Dasaris, who are dealt with in the present 
note, are stated by Mr. S. M. Natesa Sastri f to be 
called Gudi Dasari, as the gudi or temple is their home 

* Manual of the Tanjore district. f Calcutta Review, 1905. 



and to be a set of quiet, innocent and simple people, 
leading a most idle and stupid life. " Quite opposed," 
he adds, "to the Gudi Dasaris in every way are the 
Donga Dasaris or thieving Dasaris. They are the most 
dreaded of the criminal classes in the Bellary district. 
These Donga Dasaris are only Dasaris in name." (See 
Donga Dasari.) 

Some Dasaris are servants under Vaishnava Brah- 
mans, who act as gurus to various castes. It is their 
duty to act as messengers to the guru, and carry the 
news of his arrival to his disciples. At the time of 
worship, and when the guru approaches a village, the 
Dasari has to blow a long brass trumpet (tarai). As the 
Brahman may not approach or touch his Paraiyan 
disciples, it is the Dasari who gives them the holy water 
(thirtham). When a Paraiyan is to be branded, the 
Brahman heats the instruments bearing the devices 
of the chank and chakaram, and hands them to the 
Dasari, who performs the operation of branding. For 
councils, settlement of marriage, and the decision of 
other social matters, the Dasaris meet, at times of 
festivals, at well-known places such as Tirutani, Tirupati 
or Tiruvallur. 

At the annual festival at the temple at Karamadi in 
the Coimbatore district, which is visited by very large 
numbers, belonging for the most part to the lower orders, 
various vows are fulfilled. These include the giving of 
kavalam to Dasaris. Kavalam consists of plantain fruits 
cut up into small slices, and mixed with sugar, jaggery 
(crude sugar), fried grain, or beaten rice. The Dasaris 
are attached to the temple, and wear short drawers, with 
strings of small brass bells tied to their wrists and ankles. 
They appear to be possessed, and move wildly about to 
the beating of drums. As they go about, the devotee 



puts some of the kavalam into their mouths. The 
Dasaris eat a little, and spit out the remainder into the 
hands of the devotees, who eat it. This is believed to 
cure all diseases, and to give children to those who 
partake of it. In addition to kavalam, some put betel 
leaves into the mouths of the Dasaris, who, after chewing 
them, spit them into the mouths of the devotees. At 
night the Dasaris carry large torches made of rags, on 
which the devotees pour ghi (clarified butter). Some 
say that, many years ago, barren women used to take a 
vow to visit the temple at the festival time, and, after offer- 
ing kavalam, have sexual intercourse with the Dasaris. 
The temple authorities, however, profess ignorance of 
this practice. 

When proceeding on a pilgrimage to the temple of 
Subramanya Swami at Palni, some devotees pierce their 
cheeks with a long silver skewer, which traverses the 
mouth cavity ; pierce the tongue with a silver arrow, 
which is protruded vertically through the protruded 
organ ; and place a silver shield (mouth-lock) in front of 
the mouth. Some Dasaris have permanent holes in 
their cheeks, into which they insert skewers when they 
go about the country in pursuit of their profession. 

For the following note on Dasaris in the Vizagapatam 
district, I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. 
The caste is an endogamous unit, the members calling 
themselves Sankhu (or conch-blowing) Dasaris, and is 
divided into numerous exogamous septs. The menari- 
kam custom, according to which a man should marry his 
maternal uncle's daughter, is followed. The remarriage 
of widows is permitted, but divorce is forbidden. The 
dead are cremated, and the chinna (small) and pedda 
rozu (big day) death ceremonies are observed. These 
Dasaris profess the Tengalai form of Vaishnavism, and 


get themselves branded. The caste is more secular, 
and less religious than in the southern districts. A 
Dasari of the North Arcot or Anantapur type, with 
conch-shell, metal gong, iron lamp, copper vessel, and 
metal image of Hanuman on his neck, is scarcely met 
with. The Vizagapatam Dasaris are the most popular 
among ballad-singers, and sing songs about heroes 
and heroines, of which the following are the most 
appreciated : — 

i. Bobbilipata, which describes the siege and 
conquest of Bobbili by Bussy in 1757. 

2. Ammi Nayudupata, which describes the tyran- 
nical behaviour of one Ammi Nayudu, a village headman 
in the Palkonda taluk, who was eventually murdered, to 
the great relief of those subject to him, by one of his 

3. Lakshmammapata, which relates the life and 
death of Lakshmamma, a Velama woman, who went 
against the menarikam custom of the caste, and was put 
to death by her husband. 

4. Yerakammaperantala-pata, which recounts the 
story of one Yerakamma, who committed sati. 

Yerakamma is the local goddess at Srungavarapukota 
in the Vizagapatam district. The ballads sung about 
her say that she was the child of Dasari parents, and 
that her birth was foretold by a Yerukala woman (whence 
her name), who prophesied that she would have the gift 
of second sight. She eventually married, and one day 
she begged her husband not to go to his field, as she 
was sure he would be killed by a tiger if he did. Her 
husband went notwithstanding, and was slain as she 
had foreseen. She committed sati on the spot where 
her shrine still stands, and at this there is a festival at 

119 DAYARfi 

As ballad-singers, two Dasaris generally travel about 
together, begging from house to house, or at the weekly 
market, one singing, while the other plays, and joins in 
the chorus. 

The titles of these Dasaris are Anna and Ayya. 

Dasari has been recorded as an exogamous sept of the 
Koravas, Malas, and Yerukalas. 

Dasi (servant). — The name for a non-Brahman 
female attendant upon a Nambutiri Brahman woman, 
which should not, as sometimes happens, be confused with 
Deva-dasi, {q.v.), which has quite another significance. 

Day are (Muhammadan). — The Dayare, Daira, or 
Mahadev Muhammadansare found in the Bangalore and 
Mysore districts of the Mysore province. Concerning 
them, we are informed in the Mysore Gazetteer that 
" they differ from the general body of Muhammadans in 
a point of belief concerning the advent of Imam Mahadi. 
The Dayares maintain that he has visited this earth 
and departed, while the orthodox Muhammadans believe 
the Prophet (Imam) has not yet appeared, and that his 
coming will be a sign of the end of the world. The 
following account of the origin of this body of dissenters 
has been related. A child was born of the Sayad sect of 
Muhammadans at Guzrat about four hundred years ago, 
who was named Sayad Ahmed, and afterwards became 
distinguished by the title of Alam (superior to Maulvi) 
in consequence of his great learning. Sayad Ahmed 
proclaimed himself the equal of Mahomet, and superior 
to all other Paigambars or messengers of god. He 
succeeded in obtaining some followers who believed in 
him, and repaired to Jivanpur in the Nizam's territories, 
where he took the name of Imam Mahadi. From thence 
he, with some disciples, proceeded to Mecca, but did 
not visit Medina. After some time he returned to 



Hyderabad, still retaining the name of Imam Mahadi. 
Such pretensions could not be tolerated by the great 
mass of Muhammadans, and Sayad Ahmed, together 
with his disciples, being worsted in a great religious 
controversy, was driven out of Hyderabad, and came 
to Channapatna in the Bangalore district, where they 
settled. The descendants of these settlers believe that 
Sayad Ahmed was the Prophet Imam Mahadi predicted 
in the Koran. They offer prayers in a masjid of their 
own, separate from other Muhammadans, and do not 
intermarry with the rest. They are an enterprising 
body, and carry on a brisk trade in silk with the western 
coast." They are mostly domiciled at Channapatna, 
where a considerable industry in the cocoons of the 
mulberry silk-moth is carried on. 

When an adult Hindu joins the Dayares as a convert, 
an interesting mock rite of circumcision is performed as 
a substitute for the real operation. A strip of betel leaf 
is wrapped round the penis, so that it projects beyond 
the glans, and is snipped instead of the prepuce. 

Like other Muhammadan classes of Southern India, 
the Dayares are as a whole dolichocephalic. But the 
frequent occurrence of individuals with a high cephalic 
index would seem to point to their recruitment from the 
mesaticephalic or brachycephalic Canarese classes. 




Number of 




exceeded 8f% 




Dayare ... 

Malabar ... 

Madras ... 








Dayyalakulam (devil's family). — Recorded, at times 
of census, as a sub-caste of Gollas, who are wrestlers 
and acrobats. 

Dedingi.— Recorded as a sub-division of Poroja. 

Dgra.— Dera, Dendra, and Devara occur as syno- 
nyms of Devanga. 

DSsa.— A sub-division of Balija. Desadhipati, de- 
noting ruler of a country, is a name assumed by some 
Janappans, who say that they are Balijas. 

Desayi.— -For the following account of the Desayi 
institution, I am indebted to an excellent account thereof 
by Mr. S. M. Natesa Sastri.* " The word Desayi means 
of the country. For almost every taluk in the North 
Arcot district there is a headman, called the Desayi 
Chetti, who may be said in a manner to correspond to 
a Justice of the Peace. The headmen belong to the 
Kavarai or Balija caste, their family name being Dhana- 
pala — a common name among the Kavarais — which may 
be interpreted as ' the protector of wealth.' The Dhana- 
pala Desayi Chetti holds sway over eighteen castes, 
Kavarai, Uppara, Lambadi, Jogi, Idiga, Paraiyan, etc. 
All those that are called valangai, or right-hand caste, 
fall within his jurisdiction. He has an establishment of 
two peons (orderlies), who are castemen, and another 
menial, a sort of bugler, who blows the horn whenever 
the Desayi Chetti goes on circuit. When any deviation 
in the moral conduct of any man or woman occurs in a 
village under the Desayi's jurisdiction, a report of it is at 
once sent to the Desayi Chetti, through the Paraiya of 
the village, by the Desayi's representative in that village. 
He has his local agent in every village within his juris- 
diction. On receipt of a report, he starts on circuit to the 

* Madras Mail, 1901. 

DfiSAYI 122 

village, with all the quaint-looking paraphernalia attached 
to his office. He moves about from place to place 
in his bullock coach, the inside of which is upholstered 
with a soft cushion bed, with a profusion of pillows 
on all sides. The Paraiya horn-blower runs in front of 
the carriage blowing the horn (bhamka), which he carries 
suspended from his shoulder when it is not in use. On 
the Desayi Chetti arriving at a village, the horn is blown 
to announce his visit on professional matters. While he 
camps at a village, people from the surrounding country 
within his jurisdiction usually go to him with any repre- 
sentations they may have to make to him as the head 
of their caste. The Desayi generally encamps in a tope 
(grove) adjoining the village. At the sound of the horn, 
the castemen on whose account the visit is made assem- 
ble at the place of encampment, with the Desayi's local 
representative at their head. The personal comforts of 
the Desayi are first attended to, and he is liberally sup- 
plied with articles of food by the party on whose account 
the visit has been undertaken. A large cup-shaped 
spoon is the ensign of the Desayi. On the outer surface, 
all round its edge, are carved in relief eighteen figures, 
each one being typical of one of the castes of which the 
Desayi is the social head. Under each figure is inscribed 
in Tamil the name of the caste which that figure typifies. 
The figures are smeared with red powder and sandal, and 
decorated with flowers. The menial, taking up the cup, 
rings the bell attached to it, to summon the parties. As 
soon as the sound is heard, the castemen amongst whom 
any offence has occurred assemble, each house in the 
village being represented by a member, so as to make 
up a panchayat (council). The Desayi's emblem is then 
placed in front of him in the midst of the panchayat, 
and a regular enquiry held. Supposing a person stands 


charged with adultery, the accused is brought before the 
assembly, and the charge formally investigated with the 
advice of the panchayat, the Desayi declares the accused 
guilty or not guilty, as the case may be. In the event 
of a man being pronounced guilty, the panchayat directs 
him to pay the aggrieved husband all the expenses he 
had incurred in connection with his marriage. In addi- 
tion to this, a fine ranging from ten to twenty rupees is 
imposed on the offender by the Desayi, and is collected 
at once. A small fraction of this fine, never exceeding 
four annas, is paid to every representative who sits in the 
panchayat, the balance going into the Desayi's pocket. 
If the delinquent refuses to pay the fine, a council of 
the same men is held, and he is excommunicated. The 
recalcitrant offender soon realises the horrors of ex- 
communication, and in a short time appears before the 
Desayi, and falls prostrate at his feet, promising to 
obey him. The Desayi then accompanies him to the 
village, calls the panchayat again, and in their presence 
removes the interdict. On this occasion, the excom- 
municated person has to pay double the amount of the 
original fine. But disobedience is rare, as people are 
alive to the serious consequences of excommunication. 
The Desayi maintains a regular record of all his enquiries 
and judgments, and in the days of the Nawabs these 
decisions were, it would appear, recognised by the 
Courts of Justice. The same respect was, it is said, 
also shown to the Desayi's decisions by the early courts 
of John Company. * 

" Every house belonging to the eighteen castes sends 
to the village representative of the Desayi, who is called 
Periyatanakaran, a pagoda (Rs. 3-8) in cash, besides 

* John Company, a corruption of Company Jehan, a title of the English 
East India Company. 


rice, dhal (Cajamis Indicus), and other articles of food 
for every marriage that takes place, in the village. The 
representative reserves for himself all the perishable 
articles, sending only the cash to the Desayi. Thus, 
for every marriage within his jurisdiction, the Desayi 
gets one pagoda. Of late, in the case of those Desayis 
who have purchased their rights as such from the old 
Desayis, instead of a pagoda, a fee of two annas and a 
half is levied on each marriage. Every death which 
occurs in a village is equally a source of income to the 
Desayi, who receives articles of food, and four annas or 
more, according to the circumstances of the parties in 
whose house the death has occurred. As in the case of 
marriage, the local representative appropriates to him- 
self the articles of food, and transmits the money to the 
Desayi. The local agent keeps a list of all domestic 
occurrences that take place in the village, and this list 
is most carefully scrutinised and checked by the Desayi 
during his tours, and any amount left unpaid is then 
collected. Whenever a marriage takes place in his own 
house, all the houses within his jurisdiction are bound 
to send him rice, dhal, and other articles, and any money 
they can afford to pay. Sometimes rich people send 
large sums to the Desayi, to enable him to purchase the 
clothes, jewels, etc., required for the marriage. When 
a Desayi finds his work too heavy for him to attend 
to single-handed, he sells a portion of his jurisdiction 
for some hundreds or thousands of rupees, according to 
its extent, to some relation. A regular sale deed is 
executed and registered." {See also Samaya.) 

Desikar.— A sub-division and title of Pandaram. 

Desur.— The name of a sub-division of Kapu, which 
is either territorial, or possibly derived from deha, body, 
and sura, valour. 

125 d£va-dasi 

Deva.—- Deva or Devara, meaning God, has been 
recorded as a synonym of Devanga and Ganiga or Gandla 
and a sept of Moger, and Deva Telikulakali as a name 
for those who express and sell oils in the Vizagapatam 
district. Devara occurs further as a title of the Jangams. 
At the Madras Census, 1901, Devar was returned as 
the name of Telugu merchants from Pondicherry trading 
in glassware. Devar is also the title of Occhans, who 
are priests at temples of village deities. The title of 
Mara vans is Devan or Tevan. In South Canara, the 
Halepaiks (toddy-drawers) are known as Devaru Mak- 
kalu (God's children), which, it has been suggested,* is 
possibly a corruption of Tivaru or Divaru Makkalu, 
meaning children of the islanders, in reference to their 
supposed descent from early immigrants from the island 
of Ceylon. 

Deva-dasi. — In old Hindu works, seven classes of 
Dasis are mentioned, viz., (1) Datta, or one who gives 
herself as a gift to a temple ; (2) Vikrita, or one who sells 
herself for the same purpose ; (3) Bhritya, or one who 
offers herself as a temple servant for the prosperity of 
her family ; (4) Bhakta, or one who joins a temple out 
of devotion ; (5) Hrita, or one who is enticed away, and 
presented to a temple ; (6) Alankara, or one who, being 
well trained in her profession, and profusely decked, 
is presented to a temple by kings and noblemen ; (7) 
Rudraganika or Gopika, who receive regular wages from 
a temple, and are employed to sing and dance. For the 
following general account I am indebted to the Madras 
Census Report, 1901 : — 

" Dasis or Deva-dasis (handmaidens of the gods) 
are dancing-girls attached to the Tamil temples, who 

• Manual of the South Canara district. 


subsist by dancing and music, and the practice of ' the 
oldest profession in the world.' The Dasis were probably 
in the beginning the result of left-handed unions between 
members of two different castes, but they are now partly 
recruited by admissions, and even purchases, from other 
classes. The profession is not now held in the consi- 
deration it once enjoyed. Formerly they enjoyed a 
considerable social position. It is one of the many 
inconsistencies of the Hindu religion that, though their 
profession is repeatedly and vehemently condemned by 
the Shastras, it has always received the countenance of 
the church. The rise of the caste, and its euphemistic 
name, seem both of them to date from about the ninth 
and tenth centuries A.D., during which much activity 
prevailed in Southern India in the matter of building 
temples, and elaborating the services held in them. The 
dancing-girls' duties, then as now, were to fan the idol 
with chamaras (Tibetan ox tails), to carry the sacred 
light called kumbarti, and to sing and dance before the 
god when he was carried in procession. Inscriptions * 
show that, in A.D. 1004, the great temple of the Chola 
king Rajaraja at Tanjore had attached to it four hundred 
talic' cheri pendugal, or women of the temple, who lived 
in free quarters in the four streets round about it, and 
were allowed tax-free land out of the endowment. Other 
temples had similar arrangements. At the beginning 
of the last century there were a hundred dancing-girls 
attached to the temple at Conjeeveram, who were, 
Buchanan tells us,t ' kept for the honour of the deities 
and the amusement of their votaries ; and any familiarity 
between these girls and an infidel would occasion scandal.' 
At Madura, Conjeeveram, and Tanjore there are still 

* South Indian Inscriptions, Vol. II, part 3, p. 259. 

t Journey from Madras through Mysore, Canara and Malabar, 1807. 


numbers of them, who receive allowances from the 
endowments of the big temples at these places. In 
former days, the profession was countenanced not only 
by the church, but also by the State. Abdur Razaak, a 
Turkish ambassador at the court of Vijayanagar in the 
fifteenth century, describes * women of this class as 
living in State-controlled institutions, the revenue of 
which went towards the upkeep of the police. 

" At the present day they form a regular caste, 
having its own laws of inheritance, its own customs and 
rules of etiquette, and its own panchayats (councils) to 
see that all these are followed, and thus hold a position, 
which is perhaps without a parallel in any other country. 
Dancing-girls, dedicated to the usual profession of the 
caste, are formally married in a temple to a sword or a 
god, the tali (marriage badge) being tied round their 
necks by some men of their caste. It was a standing 
puzzle to the census enumerators whether such women 
should be entered as married in the column referring- to 
civil condition. 

"Among the Dasis, sons and daughters inherit 
equally, contrary to ordinary Hindu usage. Some of the 
sons remain in the caste, and live by playing music for 
the women to dance to, and accompaniments to their 
songs, or by teaching singing and dancing to the younger 
girls, and music to the boys. These are called Nattu- 
vans. Others marry some girl of the caste, who is too 
plain to be likely to be a success in the profession, and 
drift out of the community. Some of these affix to their 
names the terms Pillai and Mudali, which are the usual 
titles of the two castes (Vellala and Kaikola) from which 
most of the Dasis are recruited, and try to live down the 

* Elliott. History of India. 


stigma attaching to their birth. Others join the Melak- 
karans or professional musicians. Cases have occurred, 
in which wealthy sons of dancing-women have been 
allowed to marry girls of respectable parentage of other 
castes, but they are very rare. The daughters of the 
caste, who are brought up to follow the caste profession, 
are carefully taught dancing, singing, the art of dressing 
well, and the ars amoris, and their success in keeping up 
their clientele is largely due to the contrast which they 
thus present to the ordinary Hindu housewife, whose 
ideas are bounded by the day's dinner and the babies. 
The dancing-girl castes, and their allies the Melakkarans, 
are now practically the sole repository of Indian music, 
the system of which is probably one of the oldest in the 
world. Besides them and the Brahmans, few study the 
subject. The barbers' bands of the villages usually 
display more energy than science. A notable exception, 
however, exists in Madras city, which has been known 
to attempt the Dead March in Saul at funerals in the 
Pariah quarters. 

11 There are two divisions among the Dasis, called 
Valangai (right-hand) and Idangai (left-hand). The 
chief distinction between them is that the former will 
have nothing to do with the Kammalans (artisans) or 
any other of the left-hand castes, or play or sing in their 
houses. The latter division is not so particular, and its 
members are consequently sometimes known as the 
Kammala Dasis. Neither division, however, is allowed 
to have any dealings with men of the lowest castes, and 
violation of this rule of etiquette is tried by a panchayat 
of the caste, and visited with excommunication. 

" In the Telugu districts, the dancing-girls are 
called Bogams and Sanis. They are supposed to be 
dedicated to the gods, just as the Dasis are, but there is 


only one temple in the northern part of the Presidency 
which maintains a corps of these women in the manner 
in vogue further south. This exception is the shrine of 
Sri Kurmam in Vizagapatam, the dancing-girls attached 
to which are known as Kurmapus. In Vizagapatam 
most of the Bogams and Sanis belong to the Nagavasulu 
and Palli castes, and their male children often call them- 
selves Nagavasulus, but in Nellore, Kurnool and Bellary 
they are often Balijas and Yerukalas. In Nellore the 
Bogams are said to decline to sing in the houses of 
Komatis. The men of the Sanis do not act as accom- 
panists to their women at nautch parties, as Bogam and 
Dasi men do. 

"In the Oriya country the dancing-girl caste is called 
Guni, but there they have even less connection with the 
temples than the Bogams and Sanis, not being even 
dedicated to the god. 

" In the Canarese (or western) taluks of Bellary, and 
in the adjoining parts of Dharwar and Mysore, a curious 
custom obtains among the Boyas, Bedarus, and certain 
other castes, under which a family which has no male 
issue must dedicate one of its daughters as a Basavi. 
The girl is taken to a temple, and married there to the 
god, a tali and toe-rings being put on her, and thence- 
forward she becomes a public woman, except that she 
does not consort with any one of lower caste than herself. 
She is not, however, despised on this account, and indeed 
at weddings she prepares the tali (perhaps because she 
can never be a widow). Contrary to all Hindu Law, 
she shares in the family property as though she was 
a son, but her right to do so has not yet been confirmed 
by the Civil Courts. If she has a son, he takes her 
father's name, but if only a daughter, that daughter 
again becomes a Basavi. The children of Basavis 
11 -9 

d£va-dAsi i 30 

marry within their own caste, without restrictions of 
any kind. 

"In Malabar there is no regular community of 
dancing-girls ; nor is there among the Mussalmans of 
any part of the Presidency." 

11 No doubt," Monier Williams writes,* " Dasis drive 
a profitable trade under the sanction of religion, and some 
courtesans have been known to amass enormous fortunes. 
Nor do they think it inconsistent with their method of 
making money to spend it in works of piety. Here and 
there Indian bridges and other useful public works owe 
their existence to the liberality of the frail sisterhood." 
The large tank (lake) at Channarayapatna in Mysore 
was built by two dancing-girls. 

In the Travancore Census Report, 1901, the Dasis 
of the Coromandel coast are compared, in the words of 
a Sanskrit poet, to walking flesh-trees bearing golden 
fruits. The observant Abbe Dubois noticed that, of all 
the women in India, it is especially the courtesans who 
are the most decently clothed, as experience has taught 
them that for a woman to display her charms damps 
sensual ardour instead of exciting it, and that the imagi- 
nation is more easily captivated than the eye. 

It was noticed by Lord Dufferin, on the occasion of a 
Viceregal visit to Madura, that the front part of the dress 
of the dancing-girls hangs in petticoats, but the back is 
only trousers. 

The Rev. A. Margoschis writes in connection with 
the practice of dilating the lobes of the ears in Tinnevelly, 
that, as it was once the fashion and a mark of respecta- 
bility to have long ears, so now the converse is true. 
Until a few years ago, if a woman had short ears, she 

* Brahmanism and Hinduism. 

131 d£va-dasi 

was asked if she was a Deva-dasi, because that class 
kept their ears natural. Now, with the change of 
customs all round, even dancing-girls are found with 
long ears. " The dancing -girls are," the Rev. M. Phillips 
writes,* "the most accomplished women among the 
Hindus. They read, write, sing and play as well as 
dance. Hence one of the great objections urged at first 
against the education of girls was ' We don't want our 
daughters to become dancing -girls '." 

It is on record t that, in 1791, the Nabob of the 
Carnatic dined with the Governor of Madras, and that, 
after dinner, they were diverted with the dancing wenches, 
and the Nabob was presented with cordial waters, 
French brandy and embroidered China quilts. The 
story is told of a Governor of Madras in more recent 
times, who, ignorant of the inverse method of beckoning 
to a person to advance or retreat in the East, was 
scandalised when a nautch girl advanced rapidly, till 
he thought she was going to sit in his lap. At a nautch 
in the fort of the Mandasa Zemindar in honour of Sir 
M. E. Grant Duff, J the dancing-girls danced to the air 
of Malbrook se va t'en guerre. Bussy taught it to the 
dancing-girls, and they to their neighbours. In the 
Vizagapatam and Godavari jungles, natives apostrophise 
tigers as Bussy. Whether the name is connected with 
Bussy I know not. 

Of Deva-dasis at the Court of Tippoo Sultan, the 
following account was published in 1801. § '* Comme 
Souverain dune partie du Visapour, Tippoo-Saiib 

* Evolution of Hinduism, 1903. 
t J. T. Wheeler. Madras in the Olden Time. 
% Notes from a Diary, 1881—86. 

§ J. Michaud. Histoire des Progres et de la Chute de I'Empire de Mysore, 
sons les Regnes d'Hyder-Aly et Tippoo Saib. 


jouissoit de la facility d' avoir parmi ses bayaderes celles 
qui dtoient les plus renommees par leurs talens, leurs 
graces, leur beaut6, etc. Ces bayaderes sont des dan- 
seuses superieures dans leur genre ; tout danse et tout 
joue en meme-tems chez elles ; leur t£te, leurs yeux, 
leurs bras, leurs pieds, tout leur corps, semblent ne se 
mouvoir que from enchanter ; elles sont d'une incroyable 
legerete, et ont le jarret aussi fort que souple ; leur taille 
est des plus sveltes et des plus elegantes, et elles 
n'ont pas un mouvement qui ne soit une grace. La plus 
ag£e de ces femmes n'avoit pas plus de seize a dix- 
sept ans. Aussi tot qu'elles atteignoient cet age, on les 
reformoit, et alors elles alloient courir les provinces, on 
s'attachoient a des pagodes, dans lesqueles elles etoient 
entretenues, et ou leurs charmes etoient un des meilleurs 
revenus des brames." 

General Burton narrates * how a civilian of the old 
school built a house at Bhavani, and established a corps 
de ballet, i.e., a set of nautch girls, whose accomplish- 
ments actually extended to singing God save the King, 
and this was kept up by their descendants, so that, when 
he visited the place in 1852, he was "greeted by the 
whole party, bedizened in all their finery, and squalling 
the national anthem as if they understood it, which they 
did not." With this may be contrasted a circular from a 
modern European official, which states that "during my 
jamabandy (land revenue settlement) tour, people have 
sometimes been kind enough to arrange singing or 
dancing parties, and, as it would have been discourteous 
to decline to attend what had cost money to arrange, 
I have accepted the compliment in the spirit in which it 
was offered. I should, however, be glad if you would 

* An Indian Olio. 


let it be generally known that I am entirely in accord 
with what is known as the anti-nautch movement in 
regard to such performances." 

It was unanimously decided, in 1905, by the Executive 
Committee of the Prince and Princess of Wales' reception 
fund, that there should be no performance by nautch 
girls at the entertainment to be given to Their Royal 
Highnesses at Madras. 

In a note on Basavis, the Collector of the Bellary 
district writes that " it is usual among Hindus to dedicate 
a bull for public use on the death of a member of their 
family. These are the breeding bulls of the village 
flock. Similarly, cows are dedicated, and are called 
Basavis. No stigma attaches to Basavis or their chil- 
dren, and they are received on terms of equality by 
other members of their caste. The origin of the institu- 
tion, it has been suggested, may probably be traced to 
the time when the Boyas, and other castes which dedi- 
cate Basavis, were soldiers, and the Basavis acted as 
camp-followers and nurses of the wounded in battle. 
According to Hindu custom, the wives of the men 
could not be taken from their homes, and, other 
women of the caste being required to attend to 
their comforts, the institution of Basavis might have 
been started ; or, if they existed before then as religious 
devotees attached to temples, they might have been 
pressed into their service, and the number added to as 
occasion required. In Narayandevarkeri there are many 
Boyas and many Basavis. On the car-festival day, the 
Boyas cannot take meals until the car is taken back to 
its original place after the procession. Sometimes, owing 
to some accident, this cannot be done the same day, and 
the car-drawing Boyas sleep near the car, and do not go 
to their houses. Then it is their Basavis who bring 

d£va-dasi 134 

them food, and not their wives." At Adoni I have seen 
a Basavi, who was working at a cotton press for a daily 
wage of three annas, in full dress on a holiday in honour 
of a local deity, wearing an elaborately chased silver 
waist belt and abundant silver jewelry. The following 
are examples of petitions presented to a European 
Magistrate and Superintendent of Police by girls who 
are about to become Basavis : — 

Petition of aged about 17 or 18. 

I have agreed to become a Basavi, and get myself stamped by my 
guru (priest) according to the custom of my caste. I request that my 
proper age, which entitles me to be stamped, may be personally 
ascertained, and permission granted to be stamped. 

The stamping refers to branding with the emblems 
of the chank and chakram. 

Petition of wife of . 

I have got two daughters, aged 15 and 12 respectively. As I have 
no male issues, I have got to necessarily celebrate the ceremony in 
the temple in connection with the tying of the goddess's tali to my 
two daughters under the orders of the guru, in accordance with the 
customs of my caste. I, therefore, submit this petition for fear that 
the authorities may raise any objection (under the Age of Consent 
Act). I, therefore, request that the Honourable Court may be pleased 
to give permission to the tying of the tali to my daughters. 

Petition of two girls, aged 17 to 19. 

Our father and mother are dead. Now we wish to be like 
prostitutes, as we are not willing to be married, and thus establish 
our house-name. Our mother also was of this profession. We now 
request permission to be prostitutes according to our religion, after 
we are sent before the Medical Officer. 

The permission referred to in the above petitions 
bears reference to a decision of the High Court that, a 
girl who becomes a Basavi being incapable of contract- 
ing a legal marriage, her dedication when a minor is an 
offence under the Penal Code. 

i35 d£va-dasi 

At Adoni the dead body of a new-born infant was 
found in a ditch, and a Basavi, working with others in 
a cotton factory, was suspected of foul play. The 
station-house officer announced his intention of visiting 
the factory, and she who was in a state of lactation, and 
could produce no baby to account for her condition, 
would be the culprit. Writing concerning the Basavis 
of the Bellary district,* Mr. W. Francis tells us that 
" parents without male issue often, instead of adopting 
a son in the usual manner, dedicate a daughter by a 
simple ceremony to the god of some temple, and thence- 
forth, by immemorial custom, she may inherit her parents' 
property, and perform their funeral rites as if she was a 
son. She does not marry, but lives in her parents' house 
with any man of equal or higher caste whom she may 
select, and her children inherit her father's name and 
bedagu (sept), and not those of their own father. If she 
has a son, he inherits her property ; if she has only 
a daughter, that daughter again becomes a Basavi, 
Parents desiring male issue of their own, cure from 
sickness in themselves or their children, or relief from 
some calamity, will similarly dedicate their daughter. 
The children of a Basavi are legitimate, and neither they 
nor their mothers are treated as being in any way 
inferior to their fellows. A Basavi, indeed, from the 
fact that she can never be a widow, is a most welcome 
guest at weddings. Basavis differ from the ordinary 
dancing-girls dedicated at temples in that their duties in 
the temples (which are confined to the shrine of their 
dedication) are almost nominal, and that they do not 
prostitute themselves promiscuously for hire. A Basavi 
very usually lives faithfully with one man, who allows her 

* Manual of the Bellary district. 

t)£VA-DASI 136 

a fixed sum weekly for her maintenance, and a fixed 
quantity of new raiment annually, and she works for her 
family as hard as any other woman. Basavis are out- 
wardly indistinguishable from other women, and are for 
the most part coolies. In places there is a custom by 
which they are considered free to change their protectors 
once a year at the village car-festival or some similar 
anniversary, and they usually seize this opportunity of 
putting their partner's affections to the test by suggest- 
ing that a new cloth and bodice would be a welcome 
present. So poor, as a rule, are the husbands that the 
police aver that the anniversaries are preceded by an 
unusual crop of petty thefts and burglaries committed 
by them in their efforts to provide their customary gifts." 
A recent report of a Police Inspector in the Bellary 
district states that " crimes are committed here and there, 
as this is Nagarapanchami time. Nagarapanchami 
festival is to be celebrated at the next Ammavasya or 
new-moon day. It is at that time the people keeping 
the prostitutes should pay their dues on that day ; 
otherwise they will have their new engagements." 

In the Kurnool district, the Basavi system is 
practised by the Boyas, but differs from that in vogue 
in Bellary and Mysore. The object of making a Basavi, 
in these two localities, is to perpetuate the family when 
there is no male heir. If the only issue in a family is a 
female, the family becomes extinct if she marries, as by 
marriage she changes her sept. To prevent this, she is 
not married, but dedicated as a Basavi, and continues to 
belong to her father's sept, to which also any male issue 
which is born to her belongs. In the Kurnool district 
the motive in making Basavis is different. The girl is 
not wedded to an idol, but, on an auspicious day, is tied 
by means of a garland of flowers to thegaruda kambham 


(lamp) of a Balija Dasari. She is released either by the 
man who is to receive her first favours, or by her maternal 
uncle. A simple feast is held, and a string of black 
beads tied round the girl's neck. She becomes a 
prostitute, and her children do not marry into respectable 
Boya families. 

" Basava women," Dr. E. Balfour writes,* " are some- 
times married to a dagger, sometimes to an idol. In 
making a female child over to the service of the temple, 
she is taken and dedicated for life to some idol. A 
khanjar, or dagger, is placed on the ground, and the girl 
who is to undergo the ceremony puts a garland thereon. 
Her mother then puts rice on the girl's forehead. The 
officiating priest then weds the girl to the dagger, just 
as if he was uniting her to a boy in marriage, by reciting 
the marriage stanzas, a curtain being held between the 
girl and the dagger." In an account of the initi- 
ation ceremony of the Basavis of the Bellary district 
Mr. F. Fawcett writes as follows. t " A sword with 
a lime stuck on its point is placed upright beside the 
novice, and held in her right hand. It represents the 
bridegroom, who, in the corresponding ceremony of 
Hindu marriage, sits on the bride's right. A tray, 
on which are a kalasyam (vessel of water) and a 
lamp, is then produced, and moved thrice in front of the 
girl. She rises, and, carrying the sword in her right 
hand, places it in the god's sanctuary. Among the 
dancing-girls very similar ceremonies are performed. 
With them, the girl's spouse is represented by a drum 
instead of a sword, and she bows to it. Her insignia 
consist of a drum and bells." In a further note on the 
dedication of Basavis, Mr. Fawcett writes J that "a tali, 

* Cyclopaedia of India. f Journ. Anth. Soc, Bombay, Vol. II. 

X Journ. Anth. Soc, Bombay, 1891. 


on which is depicted the namam of Vishnu, fastened to a 
necklace of black beads, is tied round her neck. She is 
given by way of insignia a cane as a wand carried in the 
right hand, and a gopalam or begging basket, which is 
slung on the left arm. She is then branded with the 
emblems of the chank andchakra. In another account * 
of the marriage ceremony among dancing-girls, it is 
stated that the Bogams, who are without exception 
prostitutes, though they are not allowed to marry, go 
through a marriage ceremony, which is rather a costly 
one. Sometimes a wealthy Native bears the expense, 
makes large presents to the bride, and receives her first 
favours. Where no such opportunity offers itself, a 
sword or other weapon represents the bridegroom, and 
an imaginary nuptial ceremony is performed. Should 
the Bogam woman have no daughter, she invariably 
adopts one, usually paying a price for her, the Kaikola 
(weaver) caste being the ordinary one from which to 
take a child. 

Among the Kaikolan musicians of Coimbatore, at 
least one girl in every family should be set apart for the 
temple service, and she is instructed in music and dancing. 
At the tali-tying ceremony she is decorated with jewels, 
and made to stand on a heap of paddy (unhusked rice). 
A folded cloth is held before her by two Dasis, who also 
stand on heaps of paddy. The girl catches hold of the 
cloth, and her dancing master, who is seated behind her, 
grasping her legs, moves them up and down in time with 
the music which is played. In the evening she is taken, 
astride a pony, to the temple, where a new cloth for the 
idol, the tali, and other articles required for doing puja 
(worship) have been got ready. The girl is seated facing 

• Manual of the North Arcot district. 


the idol, and the officiating Brahman gives sandal and 
flowers to her, and ties the tali, which has been 
lying at the feet of the idol, round her neck. The tali 
consists of a golden disc and black beads. She continues 
to learn music and dancing, and eventually goes through 
the form of a nuptial ceremony. The relations are 
invited on an auspicious day, and the maternal uncle, 
or his representative, ties a golden band on the girl's 
forehead, and, carrying her, places her on a plank before 
the assembled guests. A Brahman priest recites man- 
trams (prayers), and prepares the sacred fire (homam). 
For the actual nuptials a rich Brahman, if possible, and, 
if not, a Brahman of more lowly status is invited. A 
Brahman is called in, as he is next in importance to, and 
the representative of, the idol. As a Dasi can never 
become a widow, the beads in her tali are considered to 
bring good luck to women who wear them. And some 
people send the tali required for a marriage to a Dasi, who 
prepares the string for it, and attaches to it black beads 
from her own tali. A Dasi is also deputed to walk at 
the head of Hindu marriage processions. Married 
women do not like to do this, as they are not proof 
against evil omens, which the procession may meet. 
And it is believed that Dasis, to whom widowhood is 
unknown, possess the power of warding off the effects of 
inauspicious omens. It may be remarked, en passant, 
that Dasis are not at the present day so much patronised 
at Hindu marriages as in olden times. Much is due in 
this direction to the progress of enlightened ideas, which 
have of late been strongly put forward by Hindu social 
reformers. When a Kaikolan Dasi dies, her body is 
covered with a new cloth removed from the idol, and 
flowers are supplied from the temple, to which she 
belonged. No puja is performed in the temple till the 


corpse is disposed of, as the idol, being her husband, has 
to observe pollution. 

11 In former times, dancing-girls used to sleep three 
nights at the commencement of their career in the inner 
shrine of the Koppesvara temple at Palivela in the Goda- 
vari district, so as to be embraced by the god. But one 
of them, it is said, disappeared one night, and the practice 
.has ceased. The funeral pyre of every girl of the dancing 
girl (Sani) caste dying in the village should be lit with 
fire brought from the temple. The same practice is 
found in the Srirangam temple near Trichinopoly."* 

The following account of Dasis in Travancore, where 
their total strength is only about four hundred, is taken 
from a note by Mr. N. Subramani Aiyer. " While the 
Dasis of Kartikappalli, Ambalapuzha, and Shertallay 
belonged originally to the Konkan coast, those of Shen- 
kottah belonged to the Pandian country. But the South 
Travancore Dasis are an indigenous class. The female 
members of the caste are, besides being known by the 
ordinary name of Tevadiyal and Dasi, both meaning 
servant of God, called Kudikkar, meaning those belong- 
ing to the house (i.e., given rent free by the Sirkar), 
and Pendukal, or women, the former of these desig- 
nations being more popular than the latter. Males 
are called Tevadiyan, though many prefer to be known 
as Nanchinat Vellalas. Males, like these Vellalas, take 
the title of Pillai. In ancient days Deva-dasis, who 
became experts in singing and dancing, received the 
title of Rayar (king) which appears to have been last 
conferred in 1847 A.D. The South Travancore Dasis 
neither interdine nor intermarry with the dancing-girls 
of the Tamil-speaking districts. They adopt girls only 

* Gazetteer of the Godavari district. 


from a particular division of the Nayars, Tamil Padam, 
and dance only in temples. Unlike their sisters outside 
Travancore, they do not accept private engagements in 
houses on the occasion of marriage. The males, in a 
few houses, marry the Tamil Padam and Padamangalam 
Nayars, while some Padamangalam Nayars and Nan- 
chinat Vellalas in their turn take their women as wives. 

" When a dancing-woman becomes too old or dis- 
eased, and thus unable to perform her usual temple duties, 
she applies to the temple authorities for permission 
to remove her ear-pendants (todus). The ceremony 
takes place at the palace of the Maharaja. At the 
appointed spot the officers concerned assemble, and 
the woman, seated on a wooden plank, proceeds to 
unhook the pendants, and places them, with a nuzzur 
(gift) of twelve fanams (coins), on the plank. Directly 
after this she turns about, and walks away without cast- 
ing a second glance at the ear- ornaments which have 
been laid down. She becomes immediately a taikkizhavi 
or old mother, and is supposed to lead a life of retire- 
ment and resignation. By way of distinction, a Dasi in 
active service is referred to as atumpatram. Though 
the ear-ornaments are at once returned to her from the 
palace, the woman is never again permitted to put them 
on, but only to wear the pampadam, or antiquated ear- 
ornament of Tamil Sudra women. Her temple wages 
undergo a slight reduction, consequent on her proved 

" In some temples, as at Keralapuram, there are 
two divisions of dancing-girls, one known as the Murak- 
kudi to attend to the daily routine, the other as the 
Chirappukuti to serve on special occasions. The special 
duties that may be required of the South Travancore 
Dasis are: — (1) to attend the two Utsavas at Sri 


Padmanabahswami's temple, and the Dusserah at the 
capital ; (2) to meet and escort members of the royal 
family at their respective village limits ; (3) to under- 
take the prescribed fasts for the Apamargam ceremony 
in connection with the annual festival of the temple. On 
these days strict continence is enjoined, and they are fed 
at the temple, and allowed only one meal a day. 

"The principal deities of the dancing-girls are those 
to whom the temples, in which they are employed, are 
dedicated. They observe the new and full-moon days, 
and the last Friday of every month as important. The 
Onam, Sivaratri, Tye-Pongal, Dipavali, and Chitrapur- 
nami are the best recognised religious festivals. Minor 
deities, such as Bhadrakali, Yakshi, and Ghandarva are 
worshipped by the figure of a trident or sword being 
drawn on the wall of the house, to which food and sweet- 
meats are offered on Fridays. The priests on these 
occasions are Occhans. There are no recognized head- 
men in the caste. The services of Brahmans are resorted 
to for the purpose of purification, of Nampiyans and 
Saiva Vellalas for the performance of funeral rites, and 
of Kurukkals on occasions of marriage, and for the final 
ceremonies on .the sixteenth day after death. 

11 Girls belonging to this caste may either be dedi- 
cated to temple service, or married to a male member of 
the caste. No woman can be dedicated to the temple 
after she has reached puberty. On the occasion of 
marriage, a sum of from fifty to a hundred and fifty 
rupees is given to the bride's house, not as a bride- 
price, but for defraying the marriage expenses. There 
is a preliminary ceremony of betrothal, and the marriage 
is celebrated at an auspicious hour. The Kurukkal 
recites a few hymns, and the ceremonies, which include 
the tying of the tali, continue for four days. The couple 


commence joint life on the sixteenth day after the girl 
has reached puberty. It is easy enough to get a divorce, 
as this merely depends upon the will of one of the two 
parties, and the woman becomes free to receive clothes 
from another person in token of her having entered into 
a fresh matrimonial alliance. 

" All applications for the presentation of a girl to the 
temple are made to the temple authorities by the senior 
dancing-girl of the temple, the girl to be presented being 
in all cases from six to eight years of age. If she is 
closely related to the applicant, no enquiries regarding 
her status and claim need be made. In all other cases, 
formal investigations are instituted, and the records taken 
are submitted to the chief revenue officer of the division 
for orders. Some paddy (rice) and five fanams are given 
to the family from the temple funds towards the expenses 
of the ceremony. The practice at the Suchindrum temple 
is to convene, on an auspicious day, a yoga or meeting, 
composed of the Valiya Sri-kariyakkar, the Yogattil 
Potti, the Vattappalli Muttatu, and others, at which the 
preliminaries are arranged. The girl bathes, and goes 
to the temple on the morning of the selected day with 
two new cloths, betel leaves and nuts. The temple 
priest places the cloths and the tali at the feet of the 
image, and sets apart one for the divine use. The tali 
consists of a triangular bottu, bearing the image of 
Ganesa, with a gold bead on either side. Taking the 
remaining cloth and the tali, and sitting close to the girl, 
the priest, facing to the north, proceeds to officiate. 
The girl sits, facing the deity, in the inner sanctuary. 
The priest kindles the fire, and performs all the marriage 
ceremonies, following the custom of the Tirukkalyanam 
festival, when Siva is represented as marrying Parvati. 
He then teaches the girl the Panchakshara hymn if the 

d£va-dasi 144 

temple is Saivite, and Ashtakshara if it is Vaishnavite, 
presents her with the cloth, and ties the tali round her 
neck. The Nattuvan, or dancing-master, instructs her 
for the first time in his art, and a quantity of raw rice is 
given to her by the temple authorities. The girl, thus 
married, is taken to her house, where the marriage 
festivities are celebrated for two or three days. As in 
Brahmanical marriages, the rolling of a cocoanut to and 
fro is gone through, the temple priest or an elderly Dasi, 
dressed in male attire, acting the part of the bridegroom. 
The girl is taken in procession through the streets. 

" The birth of male children is not made an occasion 
for rejoicing, and, as the proverb goes, the lamp on these 
occasions is only dimly lighted. Inheritance is in the 
female line, and women are the absolute owners of all 
property earned. When a dancing -girl dies, some paddy 
and five fanams are given from the temple to which she 
was attached, to defray the funeral expenses. The 
temple priest gives a garland, and a quantity of ashes 
for decorating the corpse. After this, a Nampiyan, an 
Occhan, some Vellala headmen, and a Kudikkari, having 
no pollution, assemble at the house of the deceased. The 
Nampiyan consecrates a pot of water with prayers, the 
Occhan plays on his musical instrument, and the Vellalas 
and Kudikkari powder the turmeric to be smeared over 
the corpse. In the case of temple devotees, their dead 
bodies must be bathed with this substance by the priest, 
after which alone the funeral ceremonies may proceed. 
The Karta (chief mourner), who is the nearest male 
relative, has to get his whole head shaved. When a 
temple priest dies, though he is a Brahman, the dancing- 
girl, on whom he has performed the vicarious marriage 
rite, has to go to his death-bed, and prepare the turmeric 
powder to be dusted over his corpse. The anniversary 


of the death of the mother and maternal uncle are 
invariably observed. 

" The adoption of a dancing-girl is a lengthy cere- 
mony. The application to the temple authorities takes 
the form of a request that the girl to be adopted 
may be made heir to both kuti and pati, that is, to the 
house and temple service of the person adopting. The 
sanction of the authorities having been obtained, all 
concerned meet at the house of the person who is 
adopting, a document is executed, and a ceremony, of 
the nature of the Jatakarma, performed. The girl then 
goes through the marriage rite, and is handed over to 
the charge of the music teacher to be regularly trained 
in her profession." 

As bearing on the initiation, laws of inheritance, etc., 
of Deva-dasis, the following cases, which have been 
argued in the Madras High Court, may be quoted # : — 
(a) In a charge against a dancing-girl of having 
purchased a young girl, aged five, with the intent that 
she would be used for the purpose of prostitution, or 
knowing it to be likely that she would be so used, 
evidence was given of the fact of purchase for sixty 
rupees, and that numerous other dancing-girls, residing 
in the neighbourhood, were in the habit of obtaining 
girls and bringing them up as dancing-girls or prostitutes, 
and that there were no instances of girls brought up by 
dancing-girls ever having been married. One witness 
stated that there were forty dancing-girls' houses in the 
town (Adoni), and that their chief source of income 
was prostitution, and that the dancing-girls, who have 
no daughters of their own, get girls from others, bring 
them up, and eventually make them dancing-girls or 

* See also collection of decisions on the law of succession, maintenance, etc., 
applicable to dancing-girls and their issues. C. Ramachendrier, Madras, 1892. 


prostitutes. He added that the dancing-girls get good 
incomes by bringing up girls in preference to boys. 
Another witness stated that dancing-girls, when they 
grow old, obtain girls and bring them up to follow their 
profession, and that good-looking girls are generally 

(b) The evidence showed that two of the prisoners 
were dancing-girls of a certain temple, that one of them 
took the two daughters of the remaining prisoner to the 
pagoda, to be marked as dancing-girls, and that they 
were so marked, and their names entered in the accounts 
of the pagoda. The first prisoner (the mother of the 
girls) disposed of the children to the third prisoner for 
the consideration of a neck ornament and thirty-five 
rupees. The children appeared to be of the ages of 
seven and two years, respectively. Evidence was taken, 
which tended to prove that dancing-girls gain their liveli- 
hood by the performance of certain offices in pagodas, 
by assisting in the performance of ceremonies in private 
houses, by dancing and singing upon the occasion of 
marriage, and by prostitution.! 

(c) The first prisoner presented an application for 
the enrolment of his daughter as a dancing-girl at one 
of the great pagodas. He stated her age to be thirteen. 
She attained puberty a month or two after her enrolment. 
Her father was the servant of a dancing-girl, the second 
prisoner, who had been teaching the minor dancing for 
some five years. The evidence showed that the second 
prisoner brought the girl to the pagoda, that both first 
and second prisoners were present when the bottu (or 
tali) was tied, and other ceremonies of the dedication 
performed ; that third prisoner, as Battar of the temple, 

* Indian Law Reports, Madras Series, XXIII, 1900. 
t Ibid. % Vol. V, 1869-70. 


was the person who actually tied the bottu, which 
denotes that the Dasi is wedded to the idol. There was 
the usual evidence that dancing-girls live by prostitu- 
tion, though occasionally kept by the same man for a 
year or more.* 

(d) The plaintiff, a Deva-dasi, complained that, 
when she brought offerings according to custom and 
placed them before the God at a certain festival, and 
asked the Archakas (officiating priests) to present the 
offerings to the God, burn incense, and then distribute 
them, they refused to take the offerings on the ground 
that the Deva-dasi had gone to a Komati's house to 
dance. She claimed damages, Rs. 10, for the rejected 
offerings, and Rs. 40 for loss of honour, and a perpetual 
injunction to allow her to perform the mantapa hadi 
(sacrifice) at the Chittrai Vasanta festival. The priests 
pleaded that the dancing-girl had, for her bad conduct 
in having danced at a Komati's house, and subsequently 
refused to expiate the deed by drinking panchagavyan 
(five products of the cow) according to the shastras, been 
expelled both from her caste and from the temple.f 

(e) In a certain temple two dancing-girls were 
dedicated by the Dharmakarta to the services of the 
temple without the consent of the existing body of 
dancing-girls, and the suit was instituted against the 
Dharmakarta and these two Deva-dasis, asking that 
the Court should ascertain and declare the rights of the 
Deva-dasis of the pagoda in regard ( 1 ) to the dedication 
of Deva-dasis, (2) to the Dharmakarta's power to bind 
and suspend them ; and that the Court should ascertain 
and declare the rights of the plaintiff, the existing 
Deva-dasis, as to the exclusion of all other Deva-dasis, 

* Ibid., Vol. I, 1876-78. f Ibid., Vol. VI, 1883. 



save those who are related to or adopted by some one 
of the Deva-dasis for the time being, or those who, 
being approved by all, are elected and proposed to the 
Dharmakarta for dedication. That the new Dasis may 
be declared to have been improperly dedicated, and not 
entitled to any of the rights of Deva-dasis, and restrained 
from attending the pagoda in that character, and from 
interfering with the duly dedicated Deva-dasis in the 
exercise of their office. That first defendant be re- 
strained from stamping and dedicating other Deva-dasis 
but such as are duly approved. The Judge dismissed 
the case on the ground that it would be contrary to 
public policy to make the declaration prayed for, as, in 
so doing, the Court would be lending itself to bringing 
the parties under the criminal law. In the appeal, 
which was dismissed, one of the Judges remarked that 
the plaintiffs claimed a right exclusive to themselves 
and a few other dancing-women, professional prostitutes, 
to present infant female children for dedication to the 
temple as dancing-girls to be stamped as such, and so 
accredited to become at maturity professional prosti- 
tutes, private or public* 

(/) A Deva-dasi sued to establish her right to the 
mirasi (fees) of dancing-girls in a certain pagoda, and to 
be put in possession of the said mirasi together with the 
honours and perquisites attached thereto, and to recover 
twenty-four rupees, being the value of said perquisites 
and honours for the year preceding. She alleged that 
the Dharmakarta of the pagoda and his agents wrong- 
fully dismissed her from the office because she had 
refused to acquiesce in the admission by the Dharma- 
karta of new dancing-girls into the pagoda service, of 

• Ibid., Vol. I, 1876-78. 


which she claimed the monopoly for herself and the 
then existing families of dancing-girls. The District 
Judge dismissed the suit, but the High Court ordered 
a re-investigation as to the question of the existence of 
an hereditary office with endowments or emoluments 
attached to it* 

(g) A girl, aged seventeen, instituted a suit against 
the trustees of a pagoda. It was alleged that a woman 
who died some years previously was one of the dancing- 
women attached to the pagoda, and, as such, entitled to 
the benefit of one of the temple endowments ; that she 
had taken in adoption the plaintiff, who was accordingly 
entitled to succeed to her office and the emoluments 
attached to it ; that the plaintiff could not enter on the 
office until a bottu-tali had been tied on her in the 
temple ; and that the trustees did not permit this to be 
done. The prayer of the plaint was that the defendants 
be compelled to allow the tali to be tied in the temple 
in view to the girl performing the dancing service, and 
enjoying the honours and endowments attached thereto. 
The Judge dismissed the suit on the ground that the 
claim was inadmissible, as being in effect a claim by the 
plaintiff to be enlisted as a public prostitute.! 

(k) On the death of a prostitute dancing-girl, her 
adopted niece, belonging to the same class, succeeds 
to her property, in whatever way it is acquired, in 
preference to a brother remaining in his caste. The 
general rule is that the legal relation between a prosti- 
tute dancing-girl and her undegraded relations remaining 
in caste be severed. \ 

(t) A pauper sued his sister for the partition of 
property valued at Rs. 34,662. The parties belonged to 

* /did., Vol. I, 1876-78. t Hid., Vol. XIX, 1896. 

\ /did., Vol. XIII, 1890. 


the Bogam caste in the Godavari district. The woman 
pleaded that the property had been acquired by her 
as a prostitute, and denied her brother's claim to it. 
He obtained a decree for only Rs. 100, being a moiety 
of the property left by their mother. The High Court 
held, on the evidence as to the local custom of the caste, 
that the decree was right.* 

(/) The accused, a Madiga of the Bellary district, 
dedicated his minor daughter as a Basavi by a form of 
marriage with an idol. It appeared that a Basavi is 
incapable of contracting a lawful marriage, and ordi- 
narily practices promiscuous intercourse with men, and 
that her sons succeed to her father's property. It was 
held that the accused had committed an offence under 
the Penal Code, which lays down that " whoever sells, 
lets to hire, or otherwise disposes of any minor under 
the age of sixteen years, with intent that such minor 
shall be employed or used for the purpose of prosti- 
tution, or for any unlawful and immoral purpose, shall 
be punished, etc." The Sessions judge referred to 
evidence that it was not a matter of course for Basavis 
to prostitute themselves for money, and added : " The 
evidence is very clear that Basavis are made in accord- 
ance with a custom of the Madiga caste. It is also in 
evidence that one of the effects of making a girl Basavi 
is that her male issue becomes a son of her father, and 
perpetuates his family, whereas, if she were married, he 
would perpetuate her husband's family. In this parti- 
cular case, the girl was made a Basavi that she might 
be heir to her aunt, who was a Basavi, but childless. 
Siddalingana Gowd says that they and their issue inherit 
the parents' property. There is evidence that Basavis 

* Ibid., Vol, XIV, 1891. 


are made on a very large scale, and that they live in their 
parents' houses. There is no evidence that they are 
regarded otherwise than as respectable members of the 
caste. It seems as if the Basavi is the Madiga and 
Bedar equivalent of the " appointed daughter " of Hindu 
law (Mitakshara, Chap. I, s. xi, 3). Upon the whole, 
the evidence seems to establish that, among the Madigas, 
there is a widespread custom of performing, in a temple 
at Uchangidurgam, a marriage ceremony, the result of 
which is that the girl is married without possibility of 
widowhood or divorce ; that she is at liberty to have 
intercourse with men at her pleasure ; that her children 
are heirs to her father, and keep up his family ; and that 
Basavi's nieces, being made Basavis, become their heirs. 
The Basavis seem in some cases to become prostitutes, 
but the language used by the witnesses generally points 
only to free intercourse with men, and not necessarily 
to receipt of payment for use of their bodies. In fact, 
they seem to acquire the right of intercourse with 
men without more discredit than accrues to the men of 
their caste for intercourse with women who are not 
their wives.* 

It may be observed that Deva-dasis are the only 
class of women, who are, under Hindu law as adminis- 
tered in the British Courts, allowed to adopt girls to 
themselves. Amongst the other castes, a widow, for 
instance, cannot adopt to herself, but only to her husband, 
and she cannot adopt a daughter instead of a son. A 
recent attempt by a Brahman at Poona to adopt a 
daughter, who should take the place of a natural-born 
daughter, was held to be invalid by general law, and not 
sanctioned by local usage. t The same would be held in 

* Ibid., Vol. XV, 1892. t Ganga Bai v. Anant. 13 Bom., 690. 

d£va-dasi 152 

Madras. " But among dancing-girls," Mayne writes,* 
" it is customary in Madras and Western India to adopt 
girls to follow their adoptive mother's profession, and 
the girls so adopted succeed to their property. No 
particular ceremonies are necessary, recognition alone 
being sufficient. In the absence, however, of a special 
custom, and on the analogy of an ordinary adoption, 
only one girl can be adopted." In Calcutta and Bombay 
these adoptions by dancing-girls have been held invalid.! 
Of proverbs relating to dancing-girls, the following 
may be quoted : — 

(1) The dancing-girl who could not dance said that 
the hall was not big enough. The Rev. H. Jensen 
gives I as an equivalent "When the devil could not 
swim, he laid the blame on the water." 

(2) If the dancing-girl be alive, and her mother 
dies, there will be beating of drums ; but, if the dancing- 
girl dies, there will be no such display. This is explained 
by Jensen as meaning that, to secure the favour of a 
dancing-girl, many men will attend her mother's funeral ; 
but, if the dancing-girl herself dies, there is nothing to 
be gained by attending the funeral. 

(3) Like a dancing-girl wiping a child. Jensen 
remarks that a dancing-girl is supposed to have no 
children, so she does not know how to keep them clean. 
Said of one who tries to mend a matter, but lacks 
experience, and makes things worse than they were 

(4) As when a boy is born in a dancing-girl's 
house. Jensen notes that, if dancing-girls have children, 
they desire to have girls, that they may be brought up 
to their own profession. 

* Hindu Law and Usage. t Macnaghten, Digest. 

% Classified Collection of Tamil Proverbs, 1897. 

153 dEvadiga 

(5) The dancing-girl, who was formerly more than 
filled with good food in the temple, now turns a somer- 
sault to get a poor man's rice. 

(6) If a matron is chaste, she may live in the 
dancing-girl's street, 

The insigne of courtesans, according to the Conjee- 
veram records, is a Cupid, that of a Christian, a curry- 

DeVcldiga.—- The Devadigas are Canarese-speaking 
temple servants in South Canara, concerning whom 
Mr. H. A. Stuart writes as follows.! "This is a class 
of servants, chiefly musicians in Hindu temples. In 
the reign of Mayura Varma, who built a number of new 
temples, it was found that Brahmans could not perform 
all the services. It was, therefore, ordained by him that 
the puja or worship alone should be performed by the 
Brahmans, and that the Stanikas and Devadigas should 
perform the other services in the temples. They are 
also called Moili (or Moyili), but there is a caste called 
Kannada Moili which is quite distinct, and Devadigas will 
not eat with them. Some of them cultivate lands, and 
some are employed as peons and constables. They 
returned eleven sub-divisions, but only one (Tulu) is 
numerically important. They are Vaishnavites, and Tulu 
Brahmans are their priests. As regards marriage, there 
is no fixed age. Remarriage of widows is permitted, but 
it is practiced only in the case of young widows. The 
dead are burned. They eat flesh, and drink liquor." 

The Devadigas or Moilis speak Tulu, and are mainly 
agriculturists. Their traditional occupation, however, is 
said to be service in temples (slaves or servants of the 

*J. S. F. Mackenzie. Ind. Ant., IV, 1875. 

t Madras Census Report, 1891 ; Manual of the South Canara district. 


deva or god). A large number of them, both male and 
female, are engaged as domestic servants. Like the 
Bants, they follow the aliya santana law of inheritance 
(in the female line), and they have the same balis (septs) 
as the Bants and Billavas. In their marriage cere- 
monies, they closely imitate the Bants. An interesting 
feature in connection therewith is that, during the dhare 
ceremony, a screen is interposed between the bride and 
bridegroom at the time when the dhare water is poured. 
As a sign of betrothal, a ring is given to the bride-elect, 
and she wears it on the little finger. The caste is a 
mixed one, and here and there Devadigas are seen to 
have the typical prominent cheek-bones and square face 
of the Jains. 

In the Census Report, 1901, Dakkera Devali, Padarti, 
and Valagadava are returned as sub-divisions of 

Devala (belonging to God). — An exogamous sept of 
Odde. The equivalent Devali has been recorded as a 
sub-caste of Devadiga, and Devalyal as a division of the 
Todas.* A division of the Irulas of the Nllgiris, settled 
near the village of Devala, is known by that name. 

Devanga.-- The Devangas are a caste of weavers, 
speaking Telugu or Canarese, who are found all over 
the Madras Presidency. Those whom I studied in the 
Bellary district connected my operations in a vague 
way with the pilag (plague) tax, and collection of 
subscriptions for the Victoria Memorial. They were 
employed in weaving women's saris in pure cotton, or 
with a silk border, which were sold to rich merchants in 
the local bazaar, some of whom belong to the Devanga 
caste. They laughingly said that, though they are 

* Breeks. Account of the Primitive Tribes and Monuments of the Nilgiris. 

• I 



professional weavers, they find it cheapest to wear cloths 
of European manufacture. 

The Devangas are also called Jadaru or Jada (great 
men), Dendra, Devara, Dera, Seniyan, and Sedan. At 
Coimbatore, in the Tamil country, they are called Settuk- 
karan (economical people). 

The following legend is narrated concerning the 
origin of the caste. Brahma, having created Manu, told 
him to weave clothes for Devas and men. Accordingly 
Manu continued to weave for some years, and reached 
heaven through his piety and virtuous life. There being 
no one left to weave for them, the Devas and men had to 
wear garments of leaves. Vexed at this, they prayed to 
Brahma that he would rescue them from their plight. 
Brahma took them to Siva, who at once created a lustrous 
spirit, and called him Devalan. Struck with the bril- 
liancy thereof, all fled in confusion, excepting Parvati, 
who remained near Siva. Siva told her that Devalan 
was created to weave clothes, to cover the limbs and 
bodies of Devas and men, whose descendants are in 
consequence called Devangas (Deva angam, limb of god). 
Devalan was advised to obtain thread from the lotus 
stalks springing from the navel of Vishnu, and he secured 
them after a severe penance. On his way back, he 
met a Rakshasa, Vajradantan by name, who was doing 
penance at a hermitage, disguised as a Sanyasi. De- 
ceived by his appearance, Devalan paid homage to him, 
and determined to spend the night at the hermitage. 
But, towards the close of the day, the Rishi and his 
followers threw off their disguise, and appeared in their 
true colours as Asuras. Devalan sought the assistance 
of Vishnu, and a chakra was given to him, with which he 
attempted to overthrow the increasing number of Asuras. 
He then invoked the assistance of Chaudanayaki or 

d£vanga 156 

Chaudeswari, who came riding on a lion, and the Asuras 
were killed off. The mighty Asuras who met their 
death were Vajradantan (diamond-toothed), Pugainethran 
(smoke-eyed), Pugaimugan (smoke-faced), Chithrasenan 
(leader of armies) and Jeyadrathan (owner of a victory- 
securing car). The blood of these five was coloured 
respectively yellow, red, white, green, and black. For 
dyeing threads of different colours, Devalan dipped them 
in the blood. The Devangas claim to be the descendants 
of Devalan, and say that they are Devanga Brahmans, 
on the strength of the following stanza, which seems to 
have been composed by a Devanga priest, Sambalinga 
Murti by name : — 

Manu was born in the Brahman caste. 

He was surely a Brahman in the womb. 

There is no Sudraism in this caste. 

Devanga had the form of Brahma. 

The legendary origin of the Devangas is given as 
follows in the Baramahal Records.* " When Brahma 
the creator created the charam and acharam, or the 
animate and inanimate creation, the Devatas or gods, 
Rakshasas or evil demons, and the human race, were 
without a covering for their bodies, which displeasing 
the god Narada or reason, he waited upon Paramesh- 
wara or the great Lord at his palace on the Kailasa 
Parvata or mount of paradise, and represented the 
indecent state of the inhabitants of the universe, and 
prayed that he would be pleased to devise a covering 
for their nakedness. Parameshwara saw the propriety 
of Narada's request, and thought it was proper to grant 
it. While he was so thinking, a male sprang into 
existence from his body, whom he named Deva angam 

• Section III, Inhabitants. Madras Government Press, 1907. 

157 dEvanga 

or the body of God, in allusion to the manner of his 
birth. Deva angam instantly asked his progenitor why 
he had created him. The God answered ' Repair to the 
pala samudram or sea of milk, where you will find Sri 
Maha Vishnu or the august mighty god Vishnu, and 
he will tell thee what to do.' Deva angam repaired to 
the presence of Sri Maha Vishnu, and represented that 
Parameshwara had sent him, and begged to be favoured 
with Vishnu's commands. Vishnu replied ' Do you 
weave cloth to serve as a covering to the inhabitants of 
the universe.' Vishnu then gave him some of the fibres 
of the lotus flower that grew from his navel, and 
taught him how to make it into cloth. Deva angam 
wove a piece of cloth, and presented it to Vishnu, who 
accepted it, and ordered him to depart, and to take the 
fibres of trees, and make raiment for the inhabitants 
of the Vishnu loka or gods. Deva angam created ten 
thousand weavers, who used to go to the forest and 
collect the fibre of trees, and make it into cloth for the 
Devatas or gods and the human race. One day, Deva 
angam and his tribe went to a forest in the Bhuloka or 
earthly world, in order to collect the fibre of trees, when 
he was attacked by a race of Rakshasas or giants, on 
which he waxed wroth, and, unbending his jata or long 
plaited hair, gave it a twist, and struck it once on the 
ground. In that moment, a Shakti, or female goddess 
having eight hands, each grasping a warlike weapon, 
sprang from the earth, attacked the Rakshasas, and 
defeated them. Deva anga named her Chudeshwari or 
goddess of the hair, and, as she delivered his tribe out 
of the hands of the Rakshasas, he made her his tutelary 

The tribal goddess of the Devangas is Chaudeswari, 
a form of Kali or Durga, who is worshipped annually 


at a festival, in which the entire community takes part 
either at the temple, or at a house or grove specially 
prepared for the occasion. During the festival weaving 
operations cease ; and those who take a prominent part 
in the rites fast, and avoid pollution. The first day 
is called alagu nilupadam (erecting, or fixing of the 
sword). The goddess is worshipped, and a sheep or 
goat sacrificed, unless the settlement is composed of 
vegetarian Devangas. One man at least from each sept 
fasts, remains pure, and carries a sword. Inside the 
temple, or at the spot selected, the pujari (priest) tries 
to balance a long sword on its point on the edge of the 
mouth of a pot, while the alagu men cut their chests 
with the swords. Failure to balance the sword is 
believed to be due to pollution brought by somebody to 
get rid of which the alagu men bathe. Cow's urine and 
turmeric water are sprinkled over those assembled, and 
women are kept at a distance to prevent menstrual or 
other form of pollution. On the next day, called jothi- 
arambam (jothi, light or splendour) as Chaudeswari is 
believed to have sprung from jothi, a big mass is made 
of rice flour, and a wick, fed with ghi (clarified butter) 
and lighted, is placed in a cavity scooped out therein. 
This flour lamp must be made by members of a pujari's 
family assisted sometimes by the alagu boys. In its 
manufacture, a quantity of rice is steeped in water, and 
poured on a plantain leaf. Jaggery (crude sugar) is 
then mixed with it, and, when it is of the proper 
consistency, it is shaped into a cone, and placed on 
a silver or brass tray. On the third day, called panaka 
puja or mahanevedyam, jaggery water is offered, and 
cocoanuts, and other offerings are laid before the . 
goddess. The rice mass is divided up, and given to 
the pujari, setti, alagu men and boys, and to the 

159 devAnga 

community, to which small portions are doled out in 
a particular order, which must be strictly observed. 
For example, at Tindivanam the order is as follows : — 

Setti (headman). Kosanam family. 

Dhondapu family. Modanam „ 

Bapatla „ 

Fire-walking does not form part of the festival, as 
the goddess herself sprang from fire. 

In some places in the North Arcot district the 
festival lasts over ten days, and varies in some points 
from the above. On the first day, the people go in 
procession to a jammi (Prosopis spicigerd) tree, and 
worship a decorated pot (kalasam), to which sheep and 
goats are sacrificed. From the second to the sixth day, 
the goddess and pot are worshipped daily. On the 
seventh day, the jammi tree is again visited, and a man 
carries on his back cooked rice, which may not be placed 
on the ground, except near the tree, or at the temple. 
If the rice is not set down en route thereto, it is 
accepted as a sign that the festival may be proceeded 
with. Otherwise they would be afraid to light the 
joti on the ninth day. This is a busy day, and the 
ceremonies of sandhulu kattadam (binding the corners), 
alagu erecting, lighting the flour mass, and pot worship 
are performed. Early in the morning, goats and sheep 
are killed, outside the village boundary, in the north, 
east, south, and west corners, and the blood is sprinkled 
on all sides to keep off all foreign ganams or saktis. 
The sword business, as already described, is gone 
through, and certain tests applied to see whether the 
joti may be lighted. A lime fruit is placed in the region 
of the navel of the idol, who should throw it down 
spontaneously. A bundle of betel leaves is cut across 
with a knife, and the cut ends should unite. If the 

d£vanga 160 

omens are favourable, the joti is lighted, sheep and 
goats are killed, and pongal (rice) is offered to the joti. 
The day closes with worship of the pot. On the last 
day the rice mass is distributed. All Devanga guests 
from other villages have to be received and treated with 
respect according to the local rules, which are in 
force. For this purpose, the community divide their 
settlements into Sthalams, Payakattulu, Galugramatulu, 
Petalu, and Kurugramalu, which have a definite order of 

Among the Devangas the following endogamous 
sections occur : — (i) Telugu ; (2) Canarese ; (3) Hathi- 
nentu Manayavaru (eighteen house people) ; (4) Siva- 
chara ; (5) Ariya ; (6) Kodekal Hatakararu (weavers). 

They are practically divided into two linguistic 
sections, Canarese and Telugu, of which the former 
have adopted the Brahmanical ceremonials to a greater 
extent than the latter, who are more conservative. 
Those who wear the sacred thread seem to preponderate 
over the non-thread weavers in the Canarese section. 
To the thread is sometimes attached metal charm- 
cylinder to ward off evil spirits. 

The following are examples of exogamous septs in 
the Telugu section : — 

Akasam, sky. 

Anumala, seeds of Dolichos 

Boggula, charcoal. 

Bandla, rock or cart. 

Chintakai, tamarind fruit. 

Challa, buttermilk. 

Chapparam, pandal or booth. 

Dhoddi, cattle-pen, or court- 

Dhuggani, money. 

Yerra, red. 

Konda, mountain. 
Kaththi, knife. 
Bandari (treasurer). 
Busam, grain. 
Dhondapu {Cephalandra 

Elugoti, assembly. 
Gattu, bank or mound. 
Paidam, money. 
Gonapala, old plough. 
Gosu, pride. 
Jigala, pith. 



Katta, a dam. 

Kompala, houses. 

Konangi, buffoon. 

Katikala, collyrium. 

Kaththiri, scissors. 

Moksham, heaven. 

Pasupala, turmeric. 

Pidakala, dried cow-dung cakes. 

Pothula, male. 

Pachi powaku, green tobacco. 

Padavala, boat. 

Pouzala, a bird. 

Pammi, clay lamp. 

Thalakoka, female cloth. 

Thutla, hole. 

Utla, ropes for hanging pots. 

Vasthrala, cloths. 

Matam, monastery. 

Madira, liquor or heap of 

Medam, fight. 
Masila, dirt. 
Olikala, funeral pyre and 

Prithvi, earth. 
Peraka, tile. 
Punjala, cock or male. 
Pinjala, cotton-cleaning. 
Pichchiga, sparrow. 
Sika (kudumi : tuft of hair). 
Sandala, lanes. 
Santha, a fair. 
Sajje (Setaria italica). 

The majority of Devangas are Saivites, and wear the 
lingam. They do not, however, wash the stone lingam 
with water, in which the feet of Jangams have been 
washed. They are not particular as to always keeping 
the lingam on the body, and give as an explanation 
that, when they are at work, they have to touch all 
kinds of people. Some said that merchants, when 
engaged in their business, should not wear the lingam, 
especially if made of spatikam (quartz), as they have 
to tell untruths as regards the value and quality of their 
goods, and ruin would follow if these were told while 
the lingam was on the body. 

In some parts of Ganjam, the country folk keep 
a large number of Brahmini bulls. When one of these 
animals dies, very elaborate funeral ceremonies take 
place, and the dead beast is carried in procession by 
Devangas, and buried by them. As the Devangas are 
Lingayats, they have a special reverence for Basavanna, 
the sacred bull, and the burying of the Brahmini bull is 

ii— 1 1 

DfiVANGA 162 

regarded by them as a sacred and meritorious act. 
Other castes do not regard it as such, though they often 
set free sacred cows or calves. 

Devangas and Padma Sales never live in the same 
street, and do not draw water from the same well. This 
is probably due to the fact that they belong to the left 
and right-hand factions respectively, and no love is 
lost between them. Like other left-hand castes, Devan- 
gas have their own dancing-girls, called Jathi-biddalu 
(children of the castes), whose male offspring do 
achchupani, printing-work on cloth, and occasionally go 
about begging from Devangas. In the Madras Census 
Report, 1 90 1, it is stated that " in Madura and Tinnevelly, 
the Devangas, or Sedans, consider themselves a shade 
superior to the Brahmans, and never do namaskaram 
(obeisance or salutation) to them, or employ them as 
priests. In Madura and Coimbatore, the Sedans have 
their own dancing-girls, who are called Devanga or 
Seda Dasis in the former, and Manikkattal in the latter, 
and are strictly reserved for members of the caste under 
pain of excommunication or heavy fine." 

Concerning the origin of the Devanga beggars, 
called Singamvadu, the following legend is current. 
When Chaudeswari and Devalan were engaged in 
combat with the Asuras, one of the Asuras hid himself 
behind the ear of the lion, on which the goddess was 
seated. When the fight was over, he came out, and 
asked for pardon. The goddess took pity on him, and 
ordered that his descendants should be called Singam- 
vallu, and asked Devalan to treat them as servants, and 
support them. Devangas give money to these beggars, 
who have the privilege of locking the door, and carrying 
away the food, when the castemen take their meals. In 
assemblies of Devangas, the hand of the beggar serves 


as a spittoon. He conveys the news of death, and has 
as the insignia of office a horn, called thuththari or 

The office of headman, or Pattagar, is hereditary, and 
he is assisted by an official called Sesha-raju or Umidi- 
setti who is the servant of the community, and receives 
a small fee annually for each loom within his beat. 

Widow remarriage is permitted in some places, 
and forbidden in others. There may be intermarriage 
between the flesh-eating and vegetarian sections. But a 
girl who belongs to a flesh-eating family, and marries into 
a vegetarian family, must abstain from meat, and may not 
touch any vessel or food in her husband's family till she 
has reached puberty. Before settling the marriage of a 
girl, some village goddess, or Chaudeswari, is consulted, 
and the omens are watched. A lizard chirping on the 
right is a good omen, and on the left bad. Sometimes, 
red and white flowers, wrapped up in green leaves, 
are thrown in front of the idol, and the omen considered 
good or bad according to the flower which a boy or girl 
picks up. At the marriage ceremony which commences 
with distribution of pan-supari (betel) and Vigneswara 
worship, the bride is presented with a new cloth, and 
sits on a three-legged stool or cloth-roller (dhonige). 
The maternal uncle puts round her neck a bondhu 
(strings of unbleached cotton) dipped in turmeric. The 
ceremonies are carried out according to the Puranic ritual, 
except by those who consider themselves to be Devanga 
Brahmans. On the first day the milk post is set up 
being made of Odina Wodier in the Tamil, and 
Mimusops hexandra in the Telugu country. Various 
rites are performed, which include tonsure, upanayanam 
(wearing the sacred thread), padapuja (washing the feet), 
Kasiyatra (mock pilgrimage to Benares), dharadhattam 



(giving away the bride), and mangalyadharanam (tying 
the marriage badge, or bottu). The proceedings con- 
clude with pot searching. A pap-bowl and ring are put 
into a pot. If the bride picks out the bowl, her first- 
born will be a girl, and if the bridegroom gets hold of 
the ring, it will be a boy. On the fifth day, a square 
design is made on the floor with coloured rice grains. 
Between the contracting couple and the square a row of 
lights is placed. Four pots are set, one at each corner 
of the square, and eight pots arranged along each side 
thereof. On the square itself, two pots representing 
Siva and Uma, are placed, with a row of seedling pots 
near them. A thread is wound nine times round the 
pots representing the god and goddess, and tied above 
to the pandal. After the pots have been worshipped, 
the thread is cut, and worn, with the sacred thread, 
for three months. This ceremony is called Nagavali. 

When a girl reaches puberty, a twig of Alangium 
Lamarckii is placed in the menstrual hut to keep off 

The dead are generally buried in a sitting posture. 
Before the grave is filled in, a string is tied to the 
kudumi (hair knot) of the corpse, and, by its means, the 
head is brought near the surface. Over it a lingam 
is set up, and worshipped daily throughout the death 

The following curious custom is described by Mr. C. 
Hayavadana Rao. Once in twelve years, a Devanga 
leaves his home, and joins the Padma Sales. He begs 
from them, saying that he is the son of their caste, and 
as such entitled to be supported by them. If alms 
are not forthcoming, he enters the house, and carries off 
whatever he may be able to pick up. Sometimes, if he 
can get nothing else, he has been known to seize a 

1 65 DfiVANGA 

lighted cigar in the mouth of a Sale, and run off with 
it. The origin of this custom is not certain, but it 
has been suggested that the Devangas and Sales were 
originally one caste, and that the former separated from 
the latter when they became Lingayats. A Devanga 
only becomes a Chinerigadu when he is advanced in 
years, and will eat the remnants of food left by Padma 
Sales on their plates. A Chinerigadu is, on his death, 
buried by the Sales. 

Many of the Devangas are short of stature, light 
skinned, with sharp-cut features, light-brown iris, and 
delicate tapering fingers. Those at Hospet, in the 
Bellary district, carried thorn tweezers (for removing 
thorns of Acacia arabica from the feet), tooth-pick 
and ear-scoop, suspended as a chatelaine from the loin- 
string. The more well-to-do had these articles made of 
silver, with the addition of a silver saw for paring the 
nails and cutting cheroots. The name Pampanna, which 
some of them bore, is connected with the nymph Pampa, 
who resides at Hampi, and asked Parameswara to 
become her husband. He accordingly assumed the 
name of Pampapathi, in whose honour there is a tank 
at Anagundi, and temple at Hampi. He directed 
Pampa to live in a pond, and pass by the name of 

The Sedans of Coimbatore, at the time of my visit 
in October, were hard at work making clothes for the 
Dipavali festival. It is at times of festivals and 
marriages, in years of prosperity among the people, that 
the weavers reap their richest harvest. 

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Bilimagga 
(white loom) and Atagara (weavers and exorcists) are 
returned as sub-castes of Devanga. The usual title of 
the Devangas is Chetti. 


The shortness of stature of some of the weaving 
classes which I have examined is brought out by the 
following average measurements : — 


Padma Sale r 59'9 

Sukun Sale ... ... ... ... 160*3 

Togata ... ... ... ... 160*5 

Suka Sale i6i*i 

Devendra.— A name assumed by some Pallans, who 
claim to be descended from the king of the gods 

Dhabba (split bamboo). — Dhabba or Dhabbai is the 
name of a sub-division of Koravas, who split bamboos, 
and make various articles therefrom. 

Dhakkado.— A small mixed class of Oriya culti- 
vators, concerning whom there is a proverb that a 
Dhakkado does not know his father. They are described, 
in the Census Report, 1891, as "a caste of cultivators 
found in the Jeypore agency tracts. They are said to be 
the offspring of a Brahman and a Sudra girl, and, though 
living on the hills, they are not an uncivilised hill tribe. 
Some prepare and sell the sacred thread, others are 
confectioners. They wear the sacred thread, and do not 
drink water from the hands of any except Brahmans. 
Girls are married before puberty, and widow marriage is 
practiced. They are flesh-eaters, and their dead are 
usually buried." 

In a note on the Dhakkados, Mr. C. Hayavadana 
Rao writes that " the illegitimate descendant of a 
Brahman and a hill woman of the non-polluting castes 
is said to be known as a Dhakkado. The Dhakkados 
assume Brahmanical names, but, as regards marriages, 
funerals, etc., follow the customs of their mother's caste. 
Her caste people intermarry with her children. A 


Dhakkado usually follows the occupation of his mother's 
caste. Thus one whose mother is a Kevuto follows 
the calling of fishing or plying boats on rivers, one 
whose mother is a Bhumia is an agriculturist, and 
so on." 

Dhakur.— Stated, in the Manual of the Vizagapatam 
district, to be illegitimate children of Brahmans, who wear 
the paieta (sacred thread). 

Dhanapala.— A sub-division ofGollas, who guard 
treasure while it is in transit. 

D hangar.-— Dhangar, or Donigar, is recorded, in the 
Madras Census Report, 1901, as a Marathi caste of 
shepherds and cattle-breeders. I gather, from a note * 
on the Dhangars of the Kanara district in the Bombay 
Presidency, that " the word Dhangar is generally derived 
from the Sanskrit dhenu, a cow. Their home speech is 
Marathi, but they can speak Kanarese. They keep a 
special breed of cows and buffaloes, known as Dhangar 
mhasis and Dhangar gais which are the largest cattle 
in Kanara. Many of Shivaji's infantry were Satara 

Dhaniala (coriander). — An exogamous sept of 
Kamma. Dhaniala Jati, or coriander caste, is an oppro- 
brious name applied to Komatis, indicating that, in 
business transactions, they must be crushed as coriander 
fruits are crushed before the seed is sown. 

Dhare.— An exogamous sept of Kuruba. In the 
Canara country, the essential and binding part of the 
marriage ceremony is called dhare (see Bant). 

Dharmaraja.— An exogamous sept of the Irulas of 
North Arcot. Dharmaraja was the eldest of the five 
Pandavas, the heroes of the Mahabharatha. 

* Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, XV, Part I, 1883. 


D hippo (light). — An exogamous sept of Bhondari. 
The members thereof may not blow out lights, or extin- 
guish them in any other way. They will not light lamps 
without being madi, i.e., wearing silk cloths, or cloths 
washed and dried after bathing. 

Dhobi.— A name used for washerman by Anglo- 
Indians all over India. The word is said to be derived 
from dhoha, Sanskrit, dhav, to wash. A whitish grey 
sandy efflorescence, found in many places, from which, by 
boiling and the addition of quicklime, an alkali of consi- 
derable strength is obtained, is called Dhobi's earth.* 
" The expression dhobie itch," Manson writes,t " al- 
though applied to any itching ringworm-like affection of 
any part of the skin, most commonly refers to some form 
of epiphytic disease of the crutch or axilla (armpit)." 
The disease is very generally supposed to be communi- 
cated by clothes from the wash, but Manson is of opinion 
that the belief that it is contracted from clothes which 
have been contaminated by the washerman is probably 
not very well founded. 

Dhobi is the name, by which the washerman caste 
of the Oriyas is known. " They are said," Mr. Francis 
writes,J " to have come originally from Orissa. Girls 
are generally married before maturity, and, if this is not 
possible, they have to be married to a sword or a tree, 
before they can be wedded to a man. Their ordinary 
marriage ceremonies are as follows. The bridal pair 
bathe in water brought from seven different houses. The 
bridegroom puts a bangle on the bride's arm (this is the 
binding part of the ceremony) ; the left and right wrists 
of the bride and bridegroom are tied together ; betel leaf 
and nut are tied in a corner of the bride's cloth, and a 

* Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson. t Tropical Diseases. 

\ Madras Census Report, 1901. 


myrabolam ( Terminalia fruit) in that of the bridegroom ; 
and finally the people present in the pandal (booth) 
throw rice and saffron (turmeric) over them. Widows 
and divorced women may marry again. They are Vaish- 
navites, but some of them also worship Kali or Durga. 
They employ Bairagis, and occasionally Brahmans, as 
their priests. They burn their dead, and perform sraddha 
(annual memorial ceremony). Their titles are Chetti (or 
Maha Chetti) and Behara." The custom of the bridal 
pair bathing in water from seven different houses obtains 
among many Oriya castes, including Brahmans. It is 
known by the name of pani-tula. The water is brought 
by married girls, who have not reached puberty, on the 
night preceding the wedding day, and the bride and 
bridegroom wash in it before dawn. This bath is called 
koili pani snano, or cuckoo water-bath. The koil is 
the Indian koel or cuckoo (Eiidynamis honor ata), whose 
crescendo cry ku-il, ku-il, is trying to the nerves during 
the hot season. 

The following proverbs * relating to washermen may 
be quoted : — 

Get a new washerman, and an old barber. 
The washerman knows the defects of the village (i.e., he learns 
a good deal about the private affairs of the various families, 
when receiving and delivering the clothes). 
When a washerman gets sick, his sickness must leave him at 
the stone. The stone referred to is the large stone, on which 
the washerman cleans cloths, and the proverb denotes that, 
however sick a washerman may be, his work must be done. 

Dhoddi.— Dhoddi, meaning a court or back-yard, 
cattle-pen, or sheep-fold, has been recorded as an exo- 
gamous sept of Devanga, Koppala Velama, Kama Sale, 
Mala, and Yanadi. 

* Rev. H. Jensen. Classified Collection of Tamil Proverbs, 1897. 


Dhoddiyan.— A name given by Tamilians to Jogis. 

Dhollo.— Dhollo is recorded in the Madras Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as the same as Doluva. A correspondent 
informs me that Dhollo is said to be different from 

Dhoma (gnat or mosquito). — An exogamous sept 
of Mala. 

Dhondapu {Cephalandra indica). — An exogamous 
sept of Devanga. The fruit is one of the commonest of 
native vegetables, and cooked in curries. 

Dhoni (boat). — An exogamous sept of Mila and 
Oruganti Kapu. In a paper on the native vessels of 
South India by Mr. Edge, published in the Journal of 
the Royal Asiatic Society, the dhoni is described as " a 
vessel of ark-like form, about 70 feet long, 20 feet broad, 
and 1 1 feet deep, with a flat bottom or keel part, which 
at the broadest place is 7 feet. 

" The whole equipment of these rude vessels, as well 
as their construction, is the most coarse and unseaworthy 
that I have ever seen." The dhoni, with masts, is 
represented in the ancient lead and copper coinage of 
Southern India. 

Dhor.— In the Madras Census Report, 1901, a few 
(164) individuals were returned as " Dher, a low caste of 
Marathi leather workers." They were, I gather from the 
Bombay Gazetteer, Dhors or tanners who dwell in various 
parts of the Bombay Presidency, and whose home speech, 
names and surnames seem to show that they have come 
from the Maratha country. 

Dhudala (calves). — An exogamous sept of Thumati 

Dhudho(milk). — A sept of Omanaito. 

Dhuggani (money). — An exogamous sept of 


Dhuliya. — Dhuliya or Dulia is a small class of Oriya 
cultivators, some of whom wear the sacred thread, and 
employ Boishnobs as their priests. Marriage before 
puberty is not compulsory, and widows can remarry. 
They eat flesh. The dead are cremated. * The name 
is said to be derived from dhuli, dust, with which those 
who work in the fields are covered. Dhuliya also 
means carriers of dhulis (dhoolies), which are a form of 

DidavL— A sub-division of Poroja. 
Digambara (space-clad or sky-clad, i.e., nude). — One 
of the two main divisions of the Jains. The Digambaras 
are said t to " regard absolute nudity as the indispensable 
sign of holiness, though the advance of civilisation has 
compelled them to depart from the practice of their 

Dlvar. — See Deva. 

Diyasi.— An exogamous sept of Dandasi. The 
members thereof show special reverence for the sun, and 
cloths, mokkutos (forehead chaplets), garlands, and other 
articles to be used by the bride and bridegroom at a wed- 
ding are placed outside the house, so that they may be 
exposed to it. 

Dolaiya. — A title of Doluva andpdia. 

Dolobehara.— The name of headmen or their assist- 
ants among many Oriya castes. In some cases, e.g., 
among the Haddis, the name is used as a title by families, 
members of which are headmen. 

Doluva.— The Doluvas of Ganjam are, according to 
the Madras Census Report, 1891, " supposed to be the 
descendants of the old Rajahs by their concubines, and 
were employed as soldiers and attendants. The name is 

* Madras Census Report, 1891. 

t G. Buhler on the Indian Sect of the Jainas, 1903, 


said to be derived from the Sanskrit dola, meaning army." 
The Doluvas claim to be descended from the Puri Rajahs 
by their concubines, and say that some of them were 
employed as sirdars and paiks under these Rajahs. They 
are said to have accompanied a certain Puri Rajah who 
came south to wage war, and to have settled in Ganjam. 
They are at the present day mainly engaged in agricul- 
ture, though some are traders, bricklayers, cart-drivers, 
etc. The caste seems to be divided into five sections, 
named Kondaiyito, Lenka, Rabba, Pottia, and Beharania, 
of which the first two are numerically the strongest and 
most widely distributed. Kondaiyito is said to be derived 
from kondo, an arrow, and to indicate warrior. The 
Kondaiyitos sometimes style themselves Rajah Doluvas, 
and claim superiority over the other sections. It is 
noted, in the Madras Census Report, 1891, that " Oriya 
Zamindars get wives from this sub-division, but the men 
of it cannot marry into the Zamindar's families. They 
wear the sacred thread, and are writers." In former days, 
the title writer was applied to the junior grade of Civil 
Servants of the East India Company. It is now used to 
denote a copying clerk in an office. 

Various titles occur among members of the caste, e.g., 
Bissoyi, Biswalo, Dolei, Jenna, Kottiya, Mahanti, Majhi, 
Nahako, Porida, Ravuto, Samulo, and Sani. 

The ordinary caste council system, with a hereditary 
headman, seems to be absent among the Doluvas, and 
the affairs of the caste are settled by leading members 

The Doluvas are Paramarthos, following the Chai- 
tanya form of Vaishnavism, and wearing a rosary of tulsi 
{Ocimum sanctum) beads. They further worship various 
Takuranis (village deities), among which are Kalva, 
Bagadevi, Kotari, Maheswari, and Manickeswari. They 

173 DOMB 

are in some places very particular regarding the perform- 
ance of sradh (memorial ceremony), which is carried 
out annually in the following manner. On the night 
before the sradh day, a room is prepared for the reception 
of the soul of the deceased. This room is called pitru 
bharano (reception of the ancestor). The floor thereof is 
cleansed with cow-dung water, and a lamp fed with ghi 
(clarified butter) is placed on it by the side of a plank. 
On this plank a new cloth is laid for the reception of 
various articles for worship, e.g., sacred grass, Zizyphus 
jujuba leaves, flowers, etc. In front of the plank a brass 
vessel, containing water and a tooth brush oiAchyranthes 
aspera root, is placed. The dead person's son throws rice 
and Zizyphus leaves into the air, and calls on the deceased 
to come and give a blessing on the following day. The 
room is then locked, and the lamp kept burning in it 
throughout the night. On the following day, all old pots 
are thrown away and, after a small space has been 
cleaned on the floor of the house, a pattern is drawn 
thereon with flour in the form of a square or oblong with 
twelve divisions. On each division a jak (Artocarpus 
integrifolia) leaf is placed, and on each leaf the son 
puts cooked rice and vegetables. A vessel containing 
Achyranthes root, and a plank with anew cloth on it, are 
set by the side of the pattern. After worship has been 
performed and food offered, the cloth is presented to a 
Brahman, and the various articles used in the ceremonial 
are thrown into water. 

Domb.-— The name Domb or Dombo is said to 
be derived from the word dumba, meaning devil, in 
reference to the thieving propensities of the tribe. The 
Dombas, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,* "are a Dravidian 

* Madras Census Report, 1891. 

DOMB 174 

caste of weavers and menials, found in the hill tracts 
of Vizagapatam. This caste appears to be an offshoot 
of the Dom caste of Bengal, Behar, and the North- 
western Provinces. Like the Doms, the Dombas are 
regarded with disgust, because they eat beef, pork, horse- 
flesh, rats, and the flesh of animals which have died a 
natural death, and both are considered to be Chandalas 
or Pariahs by the Bengalis and the Uriyas. The Dombs 
weave the cloths and blankets worn by the hill people, 
but, like the Pariahs of the plains, they are also labour- 
ers, scavengers, etc. Some of them are extensively 
engaged in trade, and they have, as a rule, more 
knowledge of the world than the ryots who despise 
them. They are great drunkards." In the Census 
Report, 1 87 1, it was noted that " in many villages, the 
Doms carry on the occupation of weaving, but, in and 
around Jaipur, they are employed as horse-keepers, tom- 
tom beaters, scavengers, and in other menial duties. 
Notwithstanding their abject position in the social scale, 
some signs of progress may be detected amongst them. 
They are assuming the occupation, in many instances, 
of petty hucksters, eking out a livelihood by taking 
advantage of the small difference in rates between 
market and market." 

" The Dombs," Mr. F. Fawcett writes, * " are an 
outcast jungle people, who inhabit the forests on the high 
lands fifty to eighty or a hundred miles from the east 
coast, about Vizagapatam. Being outcast, they are 
never allowed to live within a village, but have their own 
little hamlet adjoining a village proper, inhabited by 
people of various superior castes. It is fair to say 
that the Dombs are akin to the Panos of the adjoining 

* Man., 1901. 



Khond country, a Pariah folk who live amongst the 
Khonds, and used to supply the human victims for the 
Meriah sacrifices. Indeed, the Khonds, who hold them 
in contemptuous inferiority, call them Dombas as a sort 
of alternative title to Panos. The Paidis of the adjoining 
Savara or Saora country are also, doubtless, kinsmen of 
the Dombs. [The same man is said to be called Paidi 
by Telugus, Dombo by the Savaras, and Pano by the 
Khonds. It is noted in the Census Report, 1881, that the 
Pano quarters in Khond villages are called Dombo Sai.] 
In most respects their condition is a very poor one. 
Though they live in the best part of the Presidency for 
game, they know absolutely nothing of hunting, and 
cannot even handle a bow and arrow. They have, how- 
ever, one respectable quality, industry, and are the 
weavers, traders, and money-lenders of the hills, being 
very useful as middlemen between the Khonds, Sauras, 
Gadabas, and other hill people on the one hand, and the 
traders of the plains on the other. I am informed, on 
good authority, that there are some Dombs who rise 
higher than this, but cannot say whether these are, or are 
not crosses with superior races. Most likely they are, 
for most of the Dombs are arrant thieves. It was 
this propensity for thieving, in fact, which had landed 
some hundreds of them in the jail at Vizagapatam 
when I visited that place, and gave me an opportunity 
of recording their measurements." The averages of 
the more important of these measurements are as 
follows : — 







Cephalic length 
Cephalic breadth 
Cephalic index 
Nasal index 


DOMB 176 

It is noted by the Missionary Gloyer * that the 
colour of the skin of the Dombs varies from very dark to 
yellow, and their height from that of an Aryan to the 
short stature of an aboriginal, and that there is a corre- 
sponding variation in facial type. 

For the following note on the Dombs, I am indebted 
to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. They are the weavers, 
traders, musicians, beggars, and money-lenders of the 
hills. Some own cattle, and cultivate. The hill people 
in the interior are entirely dependent on them for 
their clothing. A few Domb families are generally 
found to each village; They act as middlemen between 
the hill people and the Komati traders. Their profits 
are said to be large, and their children are, in some 
places, found attending hill schools. As musicians, they 
play on the drum and pipe. They are the hereditary 
musicians of the Maharaja of Jeypore. A Domb beggar, 
when engaged in his professional calling, goes about 
from door to door, playing on a little pipe. Their 
supposed powers over devils and witches result in 
their being consulted when troubles appear. Though 
the Dombs are regarded as a low and polluting class, 
they will not eat at the hands of Komatis, Bhondaris, 
or Ghasis. Some Dombas have become converts to 
Christianity through missionary influence. 

In the Madras Census Report, 1891, the following 
sections of the Dombs are recorded : — Onomia, Odia, 
Mandiri, Mirgam, and Kohara. The sub-divisions, how- 
ever, seem to be as follows : — Mirigani, Kobbiriya, 
Odiya, Sodabisiya, Mandiri, and Andiniya. There are 
also various septs, of which the following have been 
recorded among the Odiyas: — Bhag (tiger), Balu (bear), 

* Jeypore, Breklum, igoi. 

177 DOMB 

Nag (cobra), Hanuman (the monkey god), Kochchipo 
(tortoise), Bengri (frog), Kukra (dog), Surya (sun), 
Matsya (fish), and Jaikonda (lizard). It is noted by 
Mr. Favvcett that " monkeys, frogs, and cobras are 
taboo, and also the sunari tree (Ochna squarrosa). The 
big lizard, cobras, frogs, and the crabs which are found 
in the paddy fields, and are usually eaten by jungle 
people, may not be eaten." 

When a girl reaches puberty, she remains outside 
the hut for five days, and then bathes at the nearest 
stream, and is presented with a new cloth. In honour 
of the event, drink is distributed among her relatives. 
Girls are usually married after puberty. A man can 
claim his paternal aunt's daughter in marriage. When 
a proposal of marriage is to be made, the suitor carries 
some pots of liquor, usually worth two rupees, to the 
girl's house, and deposits them in front of it. If her 
parents consent to the match, they take the pots inside, 
and drink some of the liquor. After some time has 
elapsed, more liquor, worth five rupees, is taken to the 
girl's house. A reduction in the quantity of liquor 
is made when a man is proposing for the hand of his 
paternal aunt's daughter, and, on the second occasion, 
the liquor will only be worth three rupees. A similar 
reduction is made in the jholla tonka, or bride price. 
On the wedding day, the bridegroom goes, accompanied 
by his relations, to the bride's home, where, at the aus- 
picious moment fixed by the Desari, his father presents 
new cloths to himself and the bride, which they put on. 
They stand before the hut, and on each is placed a cloth 
with a myrabolam ( Terminalia) seed, rice, and a few 
copper coins tied up in it. The bridegroom's right little 
finger is linked with the left little finger of the bride, and 
they enter the hut. On the following day, the newly 


DOMB 178 

married couple repair to the home of the bridegroom. 
On the third day, they are bathed in turmeric water, 
a pig is killed, and a feast is held. On the ninth day, 
the knots in the cloths, containing the myrabolams, rice, 
and coins, are untied, and the marriage ceremonies 
are at an end. The remarriage of widows is permitted, 
and a younger brother usually marries the widow of his 
elder brother. 

It is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam 
district, that " some of the Dombus of the Parvatipur 
Agency follow many of the customs of the low-country 
castes, including menarikam (marriage with the maternal 
uncle's daughter), and say they are the same as the Paidis 
(or Paidi Malas) of the plains adjoining, with whom 
they intermarry." 

The corpses of the more prosperous Dombs are 
usually cremated. The wood of the sunari tree and 
relli (Cassia fistula) may not be used for the pyre. 
The son or husband of a deceased person has his head, 
moustache, and armpits shaved on the tenth day. 

Domb women, and women of other tribes in the 
Jeypore Agency tracts, wear silver ear ornaments called 
nagul, representing a cobra just about to strike with 
tongue protruded. Similar ornaments of gold, called 
naga pogulu (cobra-shaped earrings), are worn by women 
of some Telugu castes in the plains of Vizagapatam. 

The personal names of the Dombs are, as among 
other Oriya castes, often those of the day of the week 
on which the individual was born. 

Concerning the religion of the Dombs, Mr. Fawcett 
notes that " their chief god — probably an ancestral 
spirit — is called Kaluga. There is one in each village, 
in the headman's house. The deity is represented by a 
pie piece (copper coin), placed in or over a new earthen 

179 DOMB 

pot smeared with rice and turmeric powder. During 
worship, a silk cloth, a new cloth, or a wet cloth may be 
worn, but one must not dress in leaves. Before the 
mangoes are eaten, the first-fruits are offered to the 
moon, at the full moon of the month Chitra." 

" When," Gloyer writes, " a house has to be built, 
the first thing is to select a favourable spot, to which 
few evil spirits (dumas) resort. At this spot they put, in 
several places, three grains of rice arranged in such a 
way that the two lower grains support the upper one. 
To protect the grains, they pile up stones round them, 
and the whole is lightly covered with earth. When, 
after some time, they find on inspection that the upper 
grain has fallen off, the spot is regarded as unlucky, and 
must not be used. If the position of the grains remains 
unchanged, the omen is regarded as auspicious. 
They drive in the first post, which must have a certain 
length, say of five, seven, or nine ells, the ell being 
measured from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow. 
The post is covered on the top with rice straw, leaves, 
and shrubs, so that birds may not foul it, which would be 
regarded as an evil omen. [In Madras, a story is current, 
with reference to the statue of Sir Thomas Munro, that 
he seized upon all the rice dep6ts, and starved the 
people to death by selling rice in egg-shells at one shell 
for a rupee, and, to punish him, the Government erected 
the statue in an open place, so that the birds of the air 
might insult him by polluting his face.] In measuring 
the house, odd numbers play an important part. The 
number four (pura, or full number), however, forms the 
proper measurement, whereby they measure the size of 
the house, according to the pleasure of the builder. But 
now the Dissary (Desari) decides whether the house 
shall be built on the nandi, dua, or tia system, nandi 


DOMB 180 

signifying one, dua two, and tia three. This number of 
ells must be added to the measurement of the house. 
Supposing that the length of the house is twelve ells, 
then it will be necessary to add one ell according to the 
nandi system, so that the length amounts to thirteen ells. 
The number four can only be used for stables." 

" The Dumas," Gloyer continues, " are represented 
as souls of the deceased, which roam about without a 
home, so as to cause to mankind all possible harm. At 
the birth of a child, the Duma must be invited in a 
friendly manner to provide the child with a soul, and 
protect it against evil. For this purpose, a fowl is killed 
on the ninth day, a bone (beinknochen) detached, and 
pressed in to the hand of the infant. The relations are 
seated in solemn silence, and utter the formula : — When 
grandfather, grandmother, father, or brother comes, throw 
away the bone, and we will truly believe it. No sooner 
does the sprawling and excited infant drop the bone, than 
the Dumas are come, and boisterous glee prevails. The 
Dumas occasionally give vent to their ghostly sounds, 
and cause no little consternation among the inmates of a 
house, who hide from fear. Cunning thieves know how 
to rob the superstitious by employing instruments with 
a subdued tone (dumpftonende), or by emitting deep 
sounds from the chest. The yearly sacrifice to a Duma 
consists of a black fowl and strong brandy. If a member 
of a family falls ill, an extraordinary sacrifice has to be 
offered up. The Duma is not regarded only as an evil 
spirit, but also as a tutelary deity. He protects one 
against the treacherous attacks of witches. A place is 
prepared for him in the door-hinge, or a fishing-net, 
wherein he lives, is placed over the door. The witches 
must count all the knots of the net, before they can enter. 
Devil worship is closely connected with that of the 

181 DOMB 

Duma. The devil's priests, and in rare cases priestesses, 
effect communion between the people and the Dumas by 
a sort of possession, which the spirit, entering into them, 
is said to give rise to. This condition, which is produced 
by intoxicating drink and the fumes of burning incense, 
gives rise to revolting cramp-like contortions, and 
muscular quiverings. In this state, they are wont to 
communicate what sacrifices the spirits require. On 
special occasions, they fall into a frenzied state, in which 
they cut their flesh with sharp instruments, or pass long, 
thin iron bars through the tongue and cheeks, during 
which operation no blood must flow. For this purpose, 
the instruments are rubbed all over with some blood- 
congealing material or sap. They also affect sitting on 
a sacred swing, armed with long iron nails. [Mr. G. F. 
Paddison informs me that he once saw a villager in the 
Vizagapatam district, sitting outside the house, while 
groans proceeded from within. He explained that he 
was ill, and his wife was swinging on nails with their 
points upwards, to cure him.] The devil called Jom 
Duto, or messenger of the going, is believed to be a one- 
eyed, limping, black individual, whose hair is twisted 
into a frightfully long horn, while one foot is very long, 
and the other resembles the hoof of a buffalo. He 
makes his appearance at the death-bed, in order to drag 
his victim to the realm of torture." 

Children are supposed to be born without souls, and 
to be afterwards chosen as an abode by the soul of an 
ancestor. The coming of the ancestor is signalised by 
the child dropping a chicken bone which has been thrust 
into its hand, and much rejoicing follows among the 
assembled relations.* 

* Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district. 

DOMB 182 

Mr. Paddison tells me that some Dombs are reputed 
to be able to pour blazing oil over their bodies, without 
suffering any hurt ; and one man is said to have had a 
miraculous power of hardening his skin, so that any one 
could have a free shot at him, without hurting him. He 
further narrates that, at Sujanakota in the Vizagapatam 
district, the Dombs, notwithstanding frequent warnings, 
put devils into two successive schoolmasters. 

Various tattoo devices, borne by the Dombs examined 
by Mr. Fawcett, are figured and described by him. 
" These patterns," he writes, " were said to be, one and 
all, purely ornamental, and not in any way connected 
with totems, or tribal emblems." Risley, however, * 
regards " four out of the twelve designs as pretty closely 
related to the religion and mythology of the tribe ; two 
are totems and two have reference to the traditional 
avocations. Nos. 11 and 1 2 represent a classical scene 
in Dom folk-lore, the story of King Haris- Chandra, who 
was so generous that he gave all he had to the poor and 
sold himself to a Dom at Benares, who employed him 
to watch his cremation ground at night. While he 
was thus engaged, his wife, who had also been sold for 
charitable purposes, came to burn the body of her son. 
She had no money to pay her fees, and Haris- Chandra, 
not knowing her in the darkness, turned her away. 
Fortunately the sun rose ; mutual recognition followed ; 
the victims of promiscuous largesse were at once 
remarried, and Vishnu intervened to restore the son to 
life. Tatu No. 1 1 shows Haris-Chandra watching the 
burning-ground by moonlight ; the wavy line is the 
Ganges ; the dots are the trees on the other side ; the 
strokes on either side of the king are the logs of wood, 

* Man., I902. 

^3 DOMB 

which he is guarding. In No. 12 we see the sun rising, 
its first ray marked with a sort of fork, and the meeting 
of the king and queen." 


« ( 

' l 


It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam 
district, that " throughout the Jeypore country proper, 
the Dombus (and some Ghasis) are by far the most 
troublesome class. Their favourite crime is cattle-theft 
for the sake of the skins, but, in 1902, a Dombu gang in 
Naurangpur went so far as to levy blackmail over a 
large extent of country, and defy for some months all 
attempts at capture. The loss of their cattle exasperates 
the other hill folk to the last degree, and, in 1899, the 
Naiks (headmen) of sixteen villages in the north of 
Jeypore taluk headed an organized attack on the houses 
of the Dombus, which, in the most deliberate manner, 
they razed to the ground in some fifteen villages. The 
Dombus had fortunately got scent of what was coming, 
and made themselves scarce, and no bloodshed occurred. 
In the next year, some of the Naiks of the Ramagiri 
side of Jeypore taluk sent round a jack branch, a well- 
recognised form of the fiery cross, summoning villagers 
other than Dombus to assemble at a fixed time and place, 
but this was luckily intercepted by the police. The 
Agent afterwards discussed the whole question with the 
chief Naiks of Jeypore and South Naurangpur. They 

DOMB 184 

had no opinion of the deterrent effects of mere imprison- 
ment on the Dombus. * You fatten them, and send them 
back,' they said, and suggested that a far better plan 
would be to cut off their right hands. [It is noted, in the 
Vizagapatam Manual, 1869, that in cases of murder, the 
Rajah of Jeypore generally had the man's hands, nose, 
and ears cut off, but, after all that, he seldom escaped the 
deceased's relatives.] They eventually proposed a plan 
of checking the cattle-thefts, which is now being fol- 
lowed in much of that country. The Baranaiks, or heads 
of groups of villages, were each given brands with 
distinctive letters and numbers, and required to brand 
the skins of all animals which had died a natural death 
or been honestly killed ; and the possession by Dombus, 
skin merchants, or others, of unbranded skins is now 
considered a suspicious circumstance, the burden of 
explaining which lies upon the possessor. Unless this, 
or some other way of checking the Dombus' depredations 
proves successful, serious danger exists that the rest of 
the people will take the matter into their own hands and, 
as the Dombus in the Agency number over 50,000, this 
would mean real trouble." It is further recorded * that 
the Paidis (Paidi Malas), who often commit dacoities 
on the roads, " are connected with the Dombus of the 
Rayagada and Gunupur taluks, who are even worse. 
These people dacoit houses at night in armed gangs of 
fifty or more, with their faces blacked to prevent recogni- 
tion. Terrifying the villagers into staying quiet in their 
huts, they force their way into the house of some wealthy 
person (for choice the local Sondi, liquor-seller and 
sowcar,f usually the only man worth looting in an 
agency village, and a shark who gets little pity from his 

• Ibid. t Money-lender. 



neighbours when forced to disgorge), tie up the men, 
rape the women, and go off with everything of value. 
Their favourite method of extracting information re- 
garding concealed property is to sprinkle the houseowner 
with boiling oil." 

Dommara.— The Dommaras are a tribe of tumblers, 
athletes, and mountebanks, some of whom wander 
about the country, while others have settled down as 
agricultural labourers, or make combs out of the wood of 
Elceodendron glaucum, Ixora parviflora, Pavetta indica, 
Ficus bengalensis, etc., which they sell to wholesale 
merchants. They are, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,* "a 
nomad class of acrobats, who, in many respects, recall 
the gipsies to mind, and raise the suggestion that their 
name may possibly be connected with the Doms of 
Northern India. They speak Telugu, Marathi, and 
Hindustani, but not generally Tamil. They are skilful 
jugglers, and both men and women are very clever 
tumblers and tight-rope dancers, exhibiting their feats as 
they travel about the country. Some of them sell date 
mats and baskets, some trade in pigs, while others, 
settled in villages, cultivate lands. In social position 
they rank just above the Pariahs and Madigas. They 
profess to be Vaishnavites [and Saivites]. Infant 
marriage is not practiced. Widow remarriage is freely 
allowed, and polygamy is common. Their marriage tie 
is very loose, and their women often practice prostitution. 
They are a predatory class, great drunkards, and of most 
dissolute habits. The dead are generally buried, and 
[on the day of the final death ceremonies] cooked rice is 
thrown out to be eaten by crows. In the matter of food, 
they eat all sorts of animals, including pigs, cats, and 

Madras Census Report, 1891 ; Manual of the North Arcot district. 


crows." When a friend was engaged in making experi- 
ments in connection with snake venom, some Dommaras 
asked for permission to unbury the corpses of snakes 
and mungooses for the purpose of food. 

The Dommaras are, in the Mysore Census Report, 
1 90 1, summed up as being buffoons, tumblers, acrobats, 
and snakecharmers, who travel from place to place, and 
earn a precarious living by their exhibitions. In the 
Madras Census Report, 1901, Domban, Kalaikuttadi 
(pole-dancer), and Arya Kuttadi, are given as synonyms 
of Dommara. The Kuttadi are summed up, in the 
Tanjore Manual, as vagabond dancers, actors, panto- 
mimists, and marionette exhibitors, who hold a very 
low position in the social scale, and always perform in 
public streets and bazaars. 

By Mr. F. S. Mullaly * the Dommaras are divided 
into Reddi or Kapu [i.e., cultivators) and Aray (Maratha). 
" The women," he writes, " are proficient in making 
combs of horn and wood, and implements used by 
weavers. These they hawk about from place to place, to 
supplement the profits they derive from their exhibitions 
of gymnastic feats. In addition to performing conjuring 
tricks, rope-dancing and the like, the Dommaras hunt, 
fish, make mats, and rear donkeys and pigs. The head 
of the tribe is called the Mutli Guru. He is their high 
priest, and exercises supreme jurisdiction over them both 
in spiritual and temporal matters. His head-quarters is 
Chitvel in the Cuddapah district. The legend regarding 
the orifice of the Mutli Guru is as follows. At Chitvel, 
or as it was then known Mutli, there once lived a king, 
who called together a gathering of all the gymnasts 
among his subjects. Several classes were represented. 

* Notes on the Criminal Classes of the Madras Presidency. 


Polerigadu, a Reddi Dommara, so pleased the king that 
he was presented with a ring, and a royal edict was 
passed that the wearer of the ring and his descendants 
should be the head of the Dommara class. The ring 
then given is said to be the same that is now worn by the 
head of the tribe at Chitvel, which bears an inscription 
in Telugu declaring that the wearer is the high-priest 
or guru of all the Dommaras. The office is hereditary. 
The dwellings of the Dommaras are somewhat similar 
to those of the Koravars and Joghis, made of palmyra 
leaves plaited into mats with seven strands. These 
huts, or gudisays, are located on the outskirts of villages, 
and carried on the backs of donkeys when on the march. 
Stolen cloths, unless of value, are not as a rule sold, but 
concealed in the packs of their donkeys, and after a 
time worn. The Dommaras are addicted to dacoity, 
robbery, burglary, and thefts. The instrument used by 
them is unlike those used by other criminal classes : it 
is of iron, about a foot long, and with a chisel-shaped 
point. As cattle and sheep lifters they are expert, and 
they have their regular receivers at most of the cattle 
fairs throughout the Presidency." 

It is noted, in the Nellore Manual, that the 
Dommaras " are stated by the Nellore Tahsildar to 
possess mirasi rights in some villages ; that I take 
to mean that there is, in some villages, a customary 
contribution for tumblers and mendicants, which, accord- 
ing to Wilson, was made in Mysore the pretext for 
a tax named Dombar-lingada-vira-kaniki. This tax, 
under the name Dombar tafrik, was levied in Venkatagiri 
in 1801." In the Madura district, Dommaras are found 
in some villages formerly owned by zamindars, and they 
call themselves children of the zamindars, by whom they 
were probably patronised. 


Being a criminal class, the Dommaras have a thief s 
language of their own, of which the following are 
examples : — 

Bidam vadu, Dommara. 
Poothi, policeman. 
Marigam, pig. 
Goparam, seven. 

Dasa-masa, prostitute. 
Kopparam, salt 
Kaljodu, goldsmith. 

The Dommaras are said to receive into their com- 
munity children of other castes, and women of doubtful 
morals, and to practice the custom of making Basavis 
(dedicated prostitutes). 

The Telugu Dommaras give as their gotra Salava 
patchi, the name of a mythological bird. At times 
of marriage, they substitute a turmeric-dyed string 
consisting of 101 threads, called bondhu, for the golden 
tali or bottu. The marriage ceremonies of the Are 
Dommaras are supervised by an old Basavi woman, and 
the golden marriage badge is tied round the bride's neck 
by a Basavi. 

A Dommara, whom I interviewed at Coimbatore, 
carried a cotton bag containing a miscellaneous assort- 
ment of rubbish used in his capacity as medicine man and 
snake-charmer, which included a collection of spurious 
jackal horns (nari kompu), the hairs round which were 
stained with turmeric. To prove the genuineness thereof, 
he showed me not only the horn, but also the feet with 
nails complete, as evidence that the horns were not 
made from the nails. Being charged with manufacturing 
the horns, he swore, by placing his hand on the head of 
a child who accompanied him, that he was not deceiving 
me. The largest of the horns in his bag, he gravely 
informed me, was from a jackal which he dug out of 
its hole on the last new moon night. The possessors 
of such horns, he assured me, do not go out with the 







pack, and rarely leave their holes except to feed on dew, 
field rats, etc. These spurious horns are regarded 
as a talisman, and it is believed that he who owns 
one can command the realisation of every wish. (See 
Kuruvikkaran.) An iron ring, which the Dommara was 
wearing on his wrist, was used as a cure for hernia, 
being heated and applied as a branding agent over 
the inguinal region. Lamp oil is then rubbed over the 
burn, and a secret medicine, mixed with fowl's egg, 
administered. The ring was, he said, an ancestral heir- 
loom, and as such highly prized. To cure rheumatism 
in the big joints, he resorted to an ingenious form of dry 
cupping. A small incision is made with a piece of 
broken glass over the affected part, and the skin damped 
with water. The distal end of a cow's horn, of which 
the tip has been removed, and plugged with wax, does 
duty for the cup. A hole is pierced through the wax 
with an iron needle, and, the horn being placed over 
the seat of disease, the air is withdrawn from it by 
suction with the mouth, and the hole in the wax stopped 
up. As the air is removed from the cavity of the horn, 
the skin rises up within it. To remove the horn, it is 
only necessary to readmit air by once more boring a hole 
through the wax. In a bad case, as many as three horns 
may be applied to the affected part. The Pitt Rivers 
Museum at Oxford possesses dry-cupping apparatus, 
made of cow horn, from Mirzapur in Northern India and 
from Natal, and of antelope horn from an unrecorded 
locality in India. In cases of scorpion sting the Dom- 
mara rubbed up patent boluses with human milk or 
milk of the milk-hedge plant (Euphorbia Tirucalli), 
and applied them to the part. For chest pains he pre- 
scribed red ochre, and for infantile diseases myrabolam 
(Terminalid) fruits mixed with water. In cases of 


snake-bite, a black stone, said to be made of various 
drugs mixed together, and burnt, is placed over the seat 
of the bite, and will, it was stated, drop off of its own 
accord as soon as it has absorbed all the poison. It is 
then put into milk or water to extract the poison, and 
the fluid is thrown away as being dangerous to life if 
swallowed. As a remedy for the bite of a mad dog, a 
plant, which is kept a secret, is mixed with the milk of a 
white goat, pepper, garlic, and other ingredients, and 
administered internally. A single dose is said to effect 
a cure. 

At Tarikeri in Mysore, a wandering troupe of Are 
(Maratha) Dommaras performed before me. The women 
were decorated with jewels and flowers, and carried bells 
on their ankles. The men had a row of bells attached 
all round the lower edge of their short drawers. Before 
the performance commenced, a Pillayar (Ganesa) was 
made with cowdung, and saluted. The entertainment 
took place in the open air amid the beating of drums, 
whistling, singing, and dialogue. The jests and antics 
of the equivalent of the circus clown were a source of 
much joy to the throng of villagers who collected to 
witness the tamasha (spectacle). One of the principal 
performers, in the waits between his turns, played the 
drum, or took a suck at a hooka (tobacco pipe) which was 
passed round among the members of the troupe. The 
entertainment, in which both men and women took part, 
consisted of various acrobatic feats, turning summer- 
saults and Catherine wheels, stilt-walking, and clever 
feats on the tight rope. Finally a man, climbing up a 
lofty bamboo pole, spun himself rapidly round and 
round on the top of it by means of a socket in an iron 
plate tied to his loin cloth, into which a spike in the 
pole fitted. 


Dondia.— A title of Gaudo. 

Donga Dasari.— Dasari (servant of the god), Mr. 
Francis writes,* " in the strict sense of the word, is a 
religious mendicant of the Vaishnavite sect, who has 
formally devoted himself to an existence as such, and 
been formally included in the mendicant brotherhood 
by being branded on the shoulders with Vaishnavite 
symbols." Far different are the Donga, or thief Dasaris, 
who receive their name from the fact that " the men and 
women disguise themselves as Dasaris, with perpendi- 
cular Vaishnava marks on their foreheads, and, carrying 
a lamp (Garuda kambum), a gong of bell-metal, a small 
drum called jagata, and a tuft of peacock feathers, go 
begging in the villages, and are at times treated with the 
sumptuous meals, including cakes offered to them as the 
disciples of Venkatesvarlu.f " 

In an interesting article on the Donga Dasaris, Mr. 
S. M. Natesa Sastri writes as follows. J " Quite opposed 
to the gudi (temple) Dasaris are Donga Dasaris. They 
are the most dreaded of the criminal classes in the 
Bellary district. In the early years of their settlement 
in Bellary, these Donga Dasaris were said to have 
practiced kidnapping boys and girls of other castes to 
strengthen their number, and even now, as the practice 
stands, any person can become a Donga Dasari though 
very few would like to become one. But, for all that, 
the chief castes who furnished members to this brother- 
hood of robbery were the scum of the Lingayats and the 
Kabberas. Of course, none of the respectable members 
of these castes would join them, and only those who 
were excommunicated found a ready home among these 

* Gazetteer of the South Arcot district. 

+ M. Paupa Rao Naidu, History of Railway Thieves. 3rd Edition, 1904. 

X Calcutta Review, 1905. 


Donga Dasaris. Sometimes Muhammadan budmashes 
(bad-mash, evil means of livelihood) and the worst 
characters from other castes, also become Donga 
Dasaris. The way an alien is made a Donga Dasari is 
as follows. The regular Donga Dasaris take the party 
who wants to enter their brotherhood to the side of a 
river, make him bathe in oil, give him a new cloth, hold 
a council, and give a feast. They burn a twig of the 
sami (Prosopis spicigera) or margosa (Me Ha Azadi- 
rachta) tree, and slightly burn the tongue of the party 
who has joined them. This is the way of purification 
and acceptance of every new member, who, soon after 
the tongue-burning ceremony, is given a seat in the 
general company, and made to partake of the common 
feast. The Donga Dasaris talk both Telugu and 
Kanarese. They have only two bedagas or family 
names, called Sunna Akki (thin rice) and Ghantelavaru 
(men of the bell). As the latter is a family name of the 
Kabberas, it is an evidence that members of the latter 
community have joined the Donga Dasaris. Even now 
Donga Dasaris intermarry with Kabberas, i.e., they 
accept any girl from a Kabbera family in marriage to 
one of their sons, but do not give one of their daughters 
in marriage to a Kabbera boy. Hanuman is their chief 
god. Venkatesa, an incarnation of Vishnu, is also 
worshipped by many. But, in every one of their villages, 
they have a temple dedicated to their village goddess 
Huligavva or Ellamma, and it is only before these 
goddesses that they sacrifice sheep or fowls. Vows are 
undertaken for these village goddesses when children 
fall ill. In addition to this, these Donga Dasaris are 
notorious for taking vows before starting on a thieving 
expedition, and the way these ceremonies are gone 
through is as follows. The gang, before starting on a 


thieving expedition, proceed to a jungle near their village 
in the early part of the night, worship their favourite 
goddesses Huligavva or Ellamma, and sacrifice a sheep 
or fowl before her. They place one of their turbans on 
the head of the sheep or fowl that was sacrificed, as soon 
as the head falls on the ground. If the turban turns to 
the right, it is considered a good sign, the goddess 
having permitted them to proceed on the expedition ; 
if to the left, they return home that night. Hanuman is 
also consulted in such expeditions, and the way in which 
it is done is as follows. They go to a Hanuman temple 
which is near their village, and, after worshipping him, 
garland him with a wreath of flowers. The garland 
hangs on both sides of the neck. If any flowers on 
the right side drop down first, it is considered as a 
permission granted by the god to start on plundering 
expeditions, and, conversely, these expeditions are never 
undertaken if any flowers happen to drop from the left 
side first. The Donga Dasaris start on their thieving 
raids with their whole family, wife and children following. 
They are the great experts in house-breaking and theft, 
and children are taught thieving by their mothers when 
they are five or six years old. The mother takes her 
boy or girl to the nearest market, and shows the child 
some cloth or vessel, and asks it to bring it away. 
When it fails, it is thrashed, and, when stroke upon 
stroke falls upon its back, the only reply it is taught to 
give is that it knows nothing. This is considered to be 
the reply which the child, when it grows up to be a man 
or woman, has to give to the police authorities when it 
is caught in some crime and thrashed by them to 
confess. Whenever the Donga Dasaris are caught by 
the police, they give false names and false castes. They 
have a cipher language among themselves. The Donga 


Dasari woman is very loose, but, if she go astray with 
a Brahman, Lingayat, Kabbera, Kuruba, Upparava, or 
Rajput, her tongue is burnt, and she is taken back into 
the community. Widow remarriage freely prevails. 
They avoid eating beef and pork, but have no objection 
to other kinds of flesh." 

Donga Odde.— The name for Oddes who practice 
thieving as a profession. 

Dongayato.— A sub-division of Gaudo. 

Dongrildiya.— A sub-division of Mali. 

Dora.— Dora, meaning lord, has been returned as 
the title of numerous classes, which include Boya, Ekari, 
Jatapu, Konda Dora, Mutracha, Patra, Telaga, Velama, 
and Yanati. The hill Kois or Koyis of the Godavari 
district are known as Koi Dora or Doralu (lords). I 
am told that, in some parts of the Telugu country, if one 
hears a native referred to as Dora, he will generally turn 
out to be a Velama ; and that there is the following 
gradation in the social scale : — 

Velama Dora = Velama Esquire. 

Kamma Varu = Mr. Kamma. 

Kapu = Plain Kapu, without an honorific suffix. 

In Southern India, Dorai or Durai (Master) is the 
equivalent of the northern Sahib, and Dorasani (Mistress) 
of Memsahib. 

It is noted by Sir A. J. Arbuthnot * that "the 
appellation by which Sir Thomas Munro was most 
commonly known in the Ceded districts was that of 
Colonel Dora. And to this day it is considered a 
sufficient answer to enquiries regarding the reason for 
any Revenue Rule, that it was laid down by the Colonel 

• Memoir of Sir Thomas Munn. 


Dorabidda, or children of chiefs, is the name by 
which Boyas, who claim to be descended from Poligars 
(feudal chiefs) call themselves. 

Dravida.— A sub-division of Kamsala. South 
Indian Brahmans are called Dravidas. 

Dubaduba.— Recorded, at times of census, as an 
Oriya form of Budubudukala. 

Duddu (money). — An exogamous sept of Mala. 

Dudekula.— The Dudekulas are described by Mr. 
H. A. Stuart * as " Muhammadans who have taken to 
the trade of cotton-cleaning (dude, cotton ; ekula, to 
clean). By the Tamils they are called Panjari or Pan- 
jukotti, which have the same significance. Though 
Muhammadans, they have adopted or retained many of 
the customs of the Hindus around them, tying a tali to 
the bride at marriage, being very ignorant of the Muham- 
madan religion, and even joining in Hindu worship as 
far as allowable. Circumcision is, however, invariable, 
and they are much given to the worship of Muhammadan 
saints. In dress they resemble the Hindus, and often 
shave off the beard, but do not leave a single lock of hair 
upon the head, as most Hindus do. Over three hundred 
Hindus have returned their caste as either Dudekula or 
Panjari, but these are probably members of other castes, 
who call themselves Dudekula as they are engaged in 

The Dudekulas are described by Mr. W. Francis t as 
11 a Muhammadan caste of cotton-cleaners, and rope and 
tape-makers. They are either converts to Islam, or the 
progeny of unions between Musalmans and the women 
of the country. Consequently they generally speak the 
Dravidian languages — either Canarese or Telugu — but 

* Manual of the North Arcot district ; Madras Census Report, 1891. 
t Madras Census Report, 1901. 
H-13 B 


some of them speak Hindustani also. Their customs 
are a mixture of those of the Musalmans and the Hindus. 
Inheritance is apparently according to Muhammadan law. 
They pray in mosques, and circumcise their boys, and 
yet some of them observe the Hindu festivals. They 
worship their tools at Bakrid and not at the Dasara ; they 
raise the azan or Muhammadan call to prayers at sunset, 
and they pray at the tombs of Musalman saints." In the 
Vizagapatam district, the Dudekulas are described as 
beating cotton, and blowing horns. 

For the following note on the Dudekulas of the Ceded 
Districts, I am indebted to Mr. Haji Khaja Hussain. 
They claim Bava Faqrud-dln Pir of Penukonda in the 
Anantapur district as their patron saint. Large numbers 
of Muhammadans, including Dudekulas, collect at the 
annual festival (mela) at his shrine, and offer their 
homage in the shape of a fatiha. This, meaning opener, 
is the name of the first chapter of the Koran, which is 
repeated when prayers are offered for the souls of the 
departed. For this ceremony a pilau, made of flesh, rice 
and ghi (clarified butter) is prepared, and the Khazi 
repeats the chapter, and offers the food to the soul of 
the deceased saint or relation. 

The story of Faqrud-din Pir is as follows. He was 
born in A.H. 564 (about A.D. 1122), and was King of 
Seistan in Persia. One day, while he was administering 
justice, a merchant brought some horses before him for 
sale. His attention was diverted, and he became for a 
time absorbed in contemplation of the beauty of one of 
the horses. Awakening from his reverie, he blamed 
himself for allowing his thoughts to wander when he 
was engaged in the most sacred of his duties as a king. 
He summoned a meeting of all the learned moulvis in 
his kingdom, and enquired of them what was the penalty 


for his conduct. They unanimously decreed that he 
should abdicate. Accordingly he placed his brother on 
the throne, and, becoming a dervish, came to India, and 
wandered about in the jungles. Eventually he arrived 
at Trichinopoly, and there met the celebrated saint Tabri- 
Alam, whose disciple he became. After his admission 
into holy orders, he was told to travel about, and plant 
his miswak wherever he halted, and regard the place 
where it sprouted as his permanent residence. The 
miswak, or tooth-brush, is a piece of the root of the pilu 
tree (Salvadora persica), which is used by Muham- 
madans, and especially Fakirs, for cleaning the teeth. 
When Bava Faqrud-din arrived at Penukonda hill, he, 
as usual, planted the miswak, which sprouted. He 
accordingly decided to make this spot his permanent 
abode. But there was close by an important Hindu 
temple, and the idea of a Muhammadan settling close 
to it enraged the Hindus, who asked him to leave. He 
not only refused to do so, but allowed his disciples, of 
whom a number had collected, to slaughter a sacred bull 
belonging to the temple. The Hindus accordingly 
decided to kill Faqrud-din and his disciples. The Raja 
collected an armed force, and demanded the restoration 
of the bull. Faqrud-din ordered one of his disciples to 
bring before him the skin, head, feet and tail of the 
animal, which had been preserved. Striking the skin 
with his staff, he exclaimed " Rise, Oh ! bull, at the 
command of God." The animal immediately rose in 
a complete state of restoration, and would not leave the 
presence of his preserver. Alarmed at this miracle, the 
Hindus brandished their swords and spears, and were 
about to fall on the Muhammadans, when a dust-storm 
arose and blinded them. In their confusion, they began 
to slay each other, and left the spot in dismay. The 


Raja then resolved to kill the Muhammadans by poison- 
ing them. He prepared some cakes mixed with poison, 
and sent them to Faqrud-din for distribution among his 
disciples. The saint, though he knew that the cakes 
were poisoned, partook thereof of himself, as also did his 
disciples, without any evil effect. A few days after- 
wards, the Raja was attacked with colic, and his case was 
given up by the court physicians as hopeless. As a last 
resort, he was taken before Faqrud-din, who offered him 
one of the poisoned cakes, which cured him. Falling at 
his feet, the Raja begged for pardon, and offered the 
village of Penukonda to Faqrud-din as a jaghir (annuity). 
This offer was declined, and the saint asked that the 
temple should be converted into a mosque. The Raja 
granted this request, and it is said that large numbers of 
Hindus embraced the Muhammadan religion, and were 
the ancestors of the Dudekulas. 

The Dudekulas, like the Hindus, like to possess 
some visible symbol for worship, and they enrol great 
personages who have died among the number of those at 
whose graves they worship. So essential is this grave 
worship that, if a place is without one, a grave is erected 
in the name of some saint. Such a thing has happened 
in recent times in Banganapalle. A Fakir, named Alia 
Bakhsh, died at Kurnool. A Dudekula of the Bangana- 
palle State visited his grave, took away a lump of earth 
from the ground near it, and buried it in a^village ten 
miles from Banganapalle. A shrine was erected over it 
in the name of the saint, and has become very famous 
for the miracles which are performed at it. An annual 
festival is held, which is attended by large numbers of 
Muhammadans and Dudekulas. 

Some Dudekulas have names which, though at first 
sight they seem to be Hindu, are really Muhammadan. 


For example, Kambannah is a corruption of Kamal 
Sahib, and Sakali, which in Telugu means a washerman, 
seems to be an altered form of Sheik Ali. Though 
Dudekulas say that they are Muhammadans of the Sheik 
sect, the name Sheik is only occasionally used as a 
prefix, e.g.. Sheik Hussain or Sheik Ali. Names of 
males are Hussain Sa, Fakir Sa, and Khasim Sa. Sa is 
an abbreviated form of Sahib. One old Dudekula stated 
that the title Sahib was intended for pucka (genuine) 
Muhammadans, and that the Dudekulas could not lay 
claim to the title in its entirety. Instead of Sa, Bhai, 
meaning brother, is sometimes used as a suffix to the 
name, e.g., Ghudu Bhai. Ghudu, meaning ash-heap, is 
an opprobrious name given to children of those whose 
offspring have died young, in the hope of securing long 
life to them. The child is taken, immediately after birth, 
to an ash-heap, where some of the ashes are sprinkled 
over it. Some Dudekulas adopt the Hindu termination 
appa (father), anna (brother), or gadu, e.g., Pullanna, 
Naganna, Yerkalappa, Hussaingadu, Hussainappa. 
Typical names of females are Roshamma, Jamalamma, 
and Madaramma. They have dropped the title Bibi or 
Bi, and adopted the Hindu title amma (mother). 

The ceremony of naming a child is generally per- 
formed on the sixth day after its birth. The choice of a 
name is entrusted to an elderly female member of the 
family. In some cases, the name of a deceased ancestor 
who lived to an advanced age is taken. If a child dies 
prematurely, there is a superstitious prejudice against its 
name, which is avoided by the family. Very frequently 
a father and son, and sometimes two or three brothers, 
have the same name. In such a case prefixes are added 
to their names as a means of distinguishing them, e.g., 
Pedda (big), Nadpi (middle), Chinna (little). Sometimes 


two names are assumed by an individual, one a Hindu 
name for every day use, the other Muhammadan for 
ceremonial occasions. 

The Dudekulas depend for the performance of their 
ceremonies largely on the Khazi, by whom even the 
killing of a fowl for domestic purposes has to be carried 
out. The Dudekula, like other Muhammadans, is averse 
to taking animal life without due religious rites, and the 
zabh, or killing of an animal for food, is an important 
matter. One who is about to do so should -first make 
vazu (ablution), by cleaning his teeth and washing his 
mouth, hands, face, forearms, head and feet. He should 
then face the west, and an assistant holds the animal to 
be slaughtered upside down, and facing west. Water 
is poured into its mouth, and the words Bismilla hi Alia 
hu Akbar uttered. The operator then cuts the throat, 
taking care that the jugular veins are divided. In 
remote villages, where a Khazi is not available, the 
Dudekulas keep a sacrificial knife, which has been 
sanctified by the Khazi repeating over it the same 
words from the Koran as are used when an animal is 

The first words which a Muhammadan child should 
hear are those of the azan, or call to prayer, which are 
uttered in its ear immediately after birth. This ceremony 
is observed by those Dudekulas who live in towns or big 
villages, or can afford the services of a Khazi. It is 
noted by Mr. Francis that the Dudekulas raise the azan 
at sunset. A few, who have been through a course of 
religious instruction at a Madrasa (school), may be able 
to do this. A Muhammadan is supposed to raise the 
azan five times daily, viz., before sunrise, between noon 
and 3 p.m., between 4 and 6 p.m., at sunset, and between 
8 p.m. and midnight. 


At the naming of an infant on the sixth day, the 
Dudekulas do not, like other Muhammadans, perform the 
aguiga. ceremony, which consists of shaving the child's 
head, and sacrificing a he-goat. Children are circum- 
cised before the tenth year. On such occasions the 
Muhammadans generally invite their friends, and distri- 
bute sweets and pan-supari (betel leaf and areca nuts). 
The Dudekulas simply send for a barber, Hindu or 
Muhammadan, who performs the operation in the pres- 
ence of a Khazi, if one happens to be available. When 
a girl reaches puberty, the Dudekulas invite their friends 
to a feast. Other Muhammadans, on the contrary, keep 
the fact a secret. 

At the betrothal ceremony, when sweets and pan- 
supari are taken by the future bridegroom and his party 
to the house of the girl whom he seeks in marriage, the 
female members of both families, and the girl herself, are 
present. This fact shows the absence of the Muham- 
madan gosha system among Dudekulas. A Muhamma- 
dan wedding lasts over five or six days, whereas the 
ceremonies are, among the Dudekulas, completed within 
twenty-four hours. On the night preceding the nikka 
day, a pilau is prepared, and a feast is held at the 
bridegroom's house. On the following morning, when 
it is still dark, the bridegroom, accompanied by his 
relations, starts on horseback in procession, with beating 
of drums and letting off of fireworks. The procession 
arrives at the bride's house before sunrise. The Khazi 
is sent for, and the mahr is settled. This is a nominal 
gift settled on the wife before marriage by the bride- 
groom. On the death of a husband, a widow has 
priority of claim on his property to the promised amount 
of the mahr. Two male witnesses are sent to the bride, 
to obtain her assent to the union, and to the amount of 

DUDI 202 

the mahr. The Khazi, being an orthodox Muhammadan, 
treats the Dudekula bride as strictly gosha for the time 
being, and, therefore, selects two of her near relatives as 
witnesses. The lutcha (marriage badge), consisting of 
a single or double string of beads, is brought in a cup 
filled with sandal paste. 

The Khazi chants the marriage service, and sends the 
lutcha in to the bride with his blessing. It is tied round 
her neck by the female relations of the bridegroom, and 
the marriage rites are over. 

The usual Muhammadan form of greeting among 
Muhammadans is the familiar " Peace be with you." 
" And with you be peace." When a Dudekula greets a 
Muhammadan, he simply bows, and, with members of 
his own community, uses a Telugu form of salutation, 
e.g., niku mokkutamu. 

The Dudekulas, male and female, dress exactly like 
Hindus, but, as a rule, the men do not shave their beard. 

Disputes, and social questions affecting the com- 
munity, are settled by a Khazi. 

With the increase in cotton mills, and the decline 
of the indigenous hand-weaving industry, the demand 
for cotton-cleaning labour has diminished, and some 
Dudekulas have, of necessity, taken to agriculture. 
Land-owners are very scarce among them, but 
some are abkari (liquor) contractors, village school- 
masters, and quack doctors. In the Ceded Districts, 
the cotton-cleaning industry is solely confined to the 

The synonyms of Dudekula, Ladaf and Nurbash, 
recorded at times of census, are corruptions of Nad-daf 
(a cotton dresser) and Nurbaf (weaving). 

Dudi.— A title of Kurumos, who officiate as priests 
at the temples of village deities. 

203 EKARI 

Dudi (cotton) Balija.— A name for traders in cotton 
in the Telugu country, and an occupational sub-division 
of Komati. 

Durga (fort). — A gotra of Kurni. 

Dutan.— Recorded, in the Travancore Census 
Report, as a synonym of Ari. 

Dyavana (tortoise). — An exogamous sept of Moger. 

Eddulu (bulls). — See Yeddulu. 

Ediannaya (hornet's nest). — An exogamous sept 
of Bant. 

Egadavan.— Recorded, at times of census, as an 
exogamous sept of Anappans, who are Canarese cattle- 
grazers settled in the Tamil country. Possibly it is a 
corruption of Heggade, a title among Kurubas. 

Ekakshara.— -A sub-division of Satani. The name 
is derived from Ekakshara, meaning one syllable, i.e., 
the mystic syllable Cm. 

Ekari.— This caste is summed up in the Madras 
Census Report, 1901, under the names Ekari, Ekali, 
Yakari, and Yakarlu, as a sub-caste of Mutracha. Mr. 
H. A. Stuart writes * that " Ekaris or Yakarlu are a 
class of cultivators and village watchmen, found chiefly in 
the northern taluks of North Arcot, and in the adjoining 
district of Cuddapah. It is very doubtful whether the 
Ekaris and Mutrachas are identical castes. The census 
statistics are, I think, sufficient to throw grave doubt on 
this view. Neither name, for instance, appears as a 
sub-division of the other, although this would certainly 

* Manual of the North Arcot district; Madras Census Report, 1891. 



be the case if they were synonymous. Nor is there any 
similarity in the sub-divisions that are given. They are 
said, in the Nellore Manual, to be hunters and merce- 
naries, and in Cuddapah, where they are known to some 
as Boyas and Kiratas, they are classed as a forest tribe. 
It is clear, however, that they enjoyed some authority, 
for several rose to be poligars. Thus the poligars of 
Kallur, Tumba, Pulicherla, Bangari and Gudipati are of 
this caste, and many of its members are village policemen. 
They do not wear the sacred thread, but employ Brah- 
mans as their priests. Their ceremonies differ very little 
from those of the Kapus. They are flesh-eaters, and 
their titles are Naidu and Dora. The caste possesses 
some interest as being that which had, in 1891, the 
highest proportion of widowed among females between 
the ages of 15 and 39. Little is known of the caste 
history. Some assert that they were formerly Hindu 
cotton cleaners, and that their name is derived from the 
verb yekuta, to clean cotton. They returned 74 sub- 
divisions, of which the most important seem to be Dodda 
(big) and Pala." 

There is neither intermarriage, nor free interdining 
between Ekaris and Mutrachas. By some, Kampin, 
and Nagiripilla kayalu, and by others Kammi and Yerrai 
were given as sub-divisions. 

One of the recognised names of washermen in Tamil 
is Egali or Ekali. 

Elakayan.— A sub-division of Nayar. It is re- 
corded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, that "its 
hereditary occupation is to get plantain leaves for the 
use of the Cherukunnu temple, where travellers are fed 
daily by the Chirakkal Raja." 

Elayad.— For the following note on the Elayads or 
Ilayatus I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. 


Ilayatu literally means younger, and the name is 
employed to denote a caste, which is supposed to be the 
last among the numerous sub-divisions of Malabar 
Brahmans. The caste-men make use of two titles, 
Ilayatu and Nambiyatiri, the latter of which has the 
same origin as Nambutiri, meaning a person worthy of 
worship. Women are generally known as Ilayammas, 
and, in some parts of North Travancore, also Kunjammas. 
By the caste-men themselves the women are called 
Akattulavar, or those inside, in the same way as Nam- 
butiri women. Children are called Kunjunnis. The 
Ilayatus exact from the Nayars the name of Ilayach- 
chan, or little father. 

According to the Jatinirnaya, a work ascribed to 
Parasurama, the Ilayatus were once Brahmans of 
undiminished purity, but became degraded owing to 
the priestly service which was performed for a Nayar ser- 
vant attached to one of their households. Two members 
of the house of Azhvancheri Tamprakkal were brothers. 
The younger resolved to go to a foreign country, and 
could get no other Nayar servant than one who was 
obliged to perform his mother's anniversary ceremony on 
the way. He promised to act as the priest on this occa- 
sion, and is even believed to have eaten the food prepared 
by the Nayar. When the matter became known to his 
elder brother, he assembled all the Vaidik Brahmans, 
and the younger brother was excommunicated. This 
tradition, like the majority of Malabar traditions, has to 
be accepted with reserve. The Ilayatus assert that, 
until interdicted by Rama Iyen Dalawa in revenge for a 
supposed dishonour to him, they had the privilege of 
commensality with Nambutiri Brahmans ; but Rama 
Iyen's authority, large as it was, did not extend to Cochin 
and British Malabar, where too the Ilayatus appear to 


labour under the same difficulty. Those who encouraged 
the higher classes of Nayars with ritualistic functions 
became Onnam Parisha or the first party of Ilayatus, the 
remainder being grouped in another class known as 
Randam or second party. The latter are lower in the 
social scale than the former. The two sections do not 
intermarry, and interdining is restricted to the male sex. 

The Ilayatus generally have a dejected appearance, 
and their poverty is proverbial. Most of them earn only 
a scanty living by their traditional occupation, and yet it 
is notorious that other walks of life have absolutely no 
attraction for them. Not only is English education not 
welcomed, but even the study of Sanskrit finds only 
a few steadfast votaries. The Ilayatus are, however, a 
naturally clever, and intelligent community, and, under 
favourable conditions, are found to take a more prominent 
place in society. 

The house of an Ilayatu is, like that of a Nambutiri, 
called illam. It is generally large, being the gift of some 
pious Nayar. Every Ilayatu house possesses a serpent 
grove, where periodical offerings are made. The dress 
and ornaments of the Ilayatus are exactly like those of 
the Nambutiris. The wedding ornament is called kettu- 
tali. Children wear a ring tied to a thread round the 
neck from the moment of the first feeding ceremony. 
The Ilayatus are strict vegetarians, and, though in some 
of their temples they have to make offerings of liquor 
to the deity, they are strictly forbidden by caste rules 
from partaking thereof. 

The chief occupation of the Ilayatus is the priesthood 
of the Nayars. The first division perform this service 
only for the Ilakkar or highest class of Nayars, while the 
second division do not decline to be the priests of any 
section of that community. In performing such services, 


the Ilayatus recite various liturgic texts, but hardly 
any Vedic hymns. The Ilayatus have also been the 
recognised priests in several North Travancore temples, 
the chief of which are the Kainikkara Bhagavata shrine, 
the Payappara Sasta shrine, and the Parekkavu Siva 
temple at Kuttattukulam. Ilayatus are the priests in 
most of the snake groves of Malabar, that at Mannarsalay 
commanding the greatest popularity and respect. 

Ilayatus are, in all matters of caste such as Smarta- 
vicharam, or enquiry into charges of adultery, etc., 
governed by the Nambutiris, who are assisted by Vaidiks 
belonging to the caste itself. It is the latter who are 
the regular priests of the Ilayatus, and, though ignorant 
of the Vedas, they seem to possess considerable 
knowledge of the priestly functions as carried out in 
Malabar. Nambutiris are sometimes invited to perform 
Isvaraseva, Sarpabali, and other religious rites. Purifi- 
cation rites are performed by the caste priests only, and 
no Nambutiri is called on to assist. Brahmans do not 
cook food in the houses of Ilayatus. 

The Ilayatus are divided mostly into two septs or 
gotras, called Visvamitra and Bharadvaja. The marriage 
of girls is performed before or after puberty, between 
the twelfth and eighteenth years. No bride-price is paid, 
but a sum of not less than Rs. 140 has to be paid to the 
bridegroom. This is owing to the fact that, in an Ilayutu 
family, as among the Nambutiris, only the eldest son- can 
lead a married life. All male members of a family, 
except the eldest, take to themselves some Nayar or 
Ambalavasi woman. Widows do not remove their tuft 
of hair on the death of their husband, but throw their 
marriage ornament on to the funeral pyre, probably as a 
symbol of the performance of sati. The Ilayatus 
resemble the Nambutiris in all questions of inheritance. 

ELLA 208 

The Ilayatus do not omit any of the sixteen religi- 
ous ceremonies of the Brahmans. The rules of name 
given are that the eldest son should be named after the 
paternal grandfather, the second after the maternal 
grandfather, and the third after the father. A parallel 
rule obtains in giving names to daughters. 

The Ilayatus belong in the main to the white and 
black branches of the Yajurveda, and observe the 
sutras of Bodhayana and Asvalayana. They recite only 
twenty-four Gayatri hymns, thrice a day. Women are 
believed to be polluted for ninety days after childbirth. 

It is noted in the Cochin Census Report, 1901, that 
the Elayads are " their own priests, and for this reason, 
and from the fact that Nayars perform sradhas (memorial 
service) in the houses of Elayads, the Nambudris do not 
cook or take meals in their houses, nor do they, 
Kshatriyas or Nampidis, take water from Elayads. In 
former times, the Elayads used to take their meals in 
Nayar houses during the performance of the sradha 
ceremony of the Nayars, as Brahmans generally do on 
such ceremonial occasions amongst themselves, but they 
now decline to do it, except in a few wealthy and 
influential families. Muthads and Elayads wear the 
sacred thread. Though in many respects the Elayads 
are more Brahmanical than the Muthads, the majority 
of the Ambalavasi castes do not take the food cooked or 
touched by the Elayads. There are some temples, in 
which they officiate as chief priests. The Muthad and 
Elayad females are gosha. They both practice poly- 
gamy, and perform Sarvaswadanam marriages like the 

Ella (boundary). — An exogamous sept of Mutracha. 

Elugoti (assembly). — An exogamous sept of 


Elugu (bear). — An exogamous sept of Yanadi. 

Eluttacchan.— Eluttacchan or Ezhuttacchan, mean- 
ing teacher or master of learning, is the name for 
educated Kadupattans of Malabar employed as school- 

Em an.— A corruption of Yajamanan, lord, recorded, 
in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a title of 

Embrantiri. — Embrantiri or Embran is "a Mala- 
yalam name for Tulu Brahmans settled in Malabar. 
They speak both Tulu and Malayalam. Some of them 
call themselves Nambudris, but they never intermarry 
with that class."* By Wigram they are defined t as " a 
class of sacrificing Brahmans, chiefly Tulu, who officiate 
at Sudra ceremonies." It is a name for the Tulu Shivalli 

Emme (buffalo). — See Yemme. 

Ena Korava. — See Korava. 

Enadi.— Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 
1901, as "a name for Shanans, derived from Enadi 
Nayanar, a Saivite saint. It also means Ambattan, or 
barber." The word denotes a chief, barber, or minister. 

Enangan.— Enangan or Inangan is defined by Mr. 
K. Kannan Nayar J as "a member of an Inangu, this 
being a community of a number of tarwads, the 
members of which may interdine or intermarry, and are 
bound to assist one another, if required, in the perform- 
ance of certain social and religious rites." It is noted, 
in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that " an Enangan or 
Inangan is a man of the same caste and sub-division or 
marriage groups. It is usually translated kinsman, but 
is at once wider and narrower in its connotation. My 

* Madras Census Report, 1901. t Malabar Law and Custom. 

% Malabar Quarterly Review, VII, 3, 1908. 


Enangans are all who can marry the same people that 
I can. An Enangatti is a female member of an Enan- 
gan's family." 

Eneti. — Said to be mendicants, who beg from 
Gamallas. {See Yanati.) 

Entamara.— See Yanati. 

Era.— Era Cheruman, or Eralan, is a sub-division 
of Cheruman. 

Eradi.— Eradi has been defined * as meaning " a 
cow-herd. A sub-division of the Nayar caste, which 
formerly ruled in what is now the Ernad taluk " of 
Malabar. In the Malabar Manual, Ernad is said to be 
derived from Eradu, the bullock country. Eradi denotes, 
according to the Census Report, 1891, "a settlement in 
Ernad. The caste of Samantas, to which the Zamorin 
of Calicut belongs." 

Eravallar.— The Eravallars are a small forest tribe 
inhabiting the Coimbatore district and Malabar. For 
the following note on the Eravallars of Cochin, I am 
indebted to Mr. L. K. Anantha Krishna Iyer, j 

Eravallars are a wild tribe of inoffensive hill-men 
found in the forests of the Cochin State, especially in the 
Chittur taluk. They are also called Villu Vedans 
(hunters using bows). Their language is Tamil, though 
some speak Malayalam. In addressing the elderly 
members of the caste, they use the titles Muthan (elder) 
and Pattan (grandfather). Names in use for males are 
Kannan (Krishna), Otukan, Kothandan, Kecharan, and 
Attukaran, while females are called Kanni, Keyi, Kai- 
kayi, Otuka, and Ramayi. These Hindu divine names 
are recent innovations after the names of members of 

* Wigram. Malabar Law and Custom. 

+ Monograph. Eth. Survey of Cochin, No. 9, 1906. 


the higher castes, with whom they frequently come in 

The Eravallars have no knowledge of the origin of 
their caste. They appear to be a rude and primitive 
people, like the other jungle tribes of the State, but are 
somewhat improving their status under their masters. 
Their habits are less migratory than those of the Malayars 
and Kadars. They live in villages called pathis, situated 
in the forests. Their huts are similar to those of the 
Malayars and Kadars. They propitiate their sylvan 
deities before the construction of their huts, and also 
before their occupation. Some days are believed to be 
lucky, as Mondays for sowing and weddings, Wednes- 
days for building, and Fridays for reaping. 

Eravallars do not live as small independent com- 
munities, but are mostly attached to farmers, under 
whom they work for a daily wage of two edangazhis and 
a half of paddy (unhusked rice). The women also work 
for the same wage, but never agree to serve in a state 
of bondage. During the festival kathira in the village 
temple of their landlords, when sheaves of corn are 
brought, every male member gets from his landlord two 
veshtis (a cloth with a coloured border 3 yards in length), 
and every woman a potava (coloured cloth 8 yards in 
length). During the Onam and Vishu festivals, one 
para of paddy, two cocoanuts, a small quantity of gingelly 
(Sesamum) and cocoanut oil are also given. The land- 
lords partly defray their marriage and funeral expenses 
by a grant of a few paras of paddy, some salt and chillies. 
Sometimes they agree to work for twenty valloms (a 
large corn measure) a year. To improve their condi- 
tion, they borrow money from their landlords, and 
purchase a bullock or buffalo or two, to cultivate a plot 
of land, after clearing a portion of the forest belonging 
11-14 B 


to their master. They raise some crops, and make 
some saving to pay off the debt. Should they be so 
unfortunate as to fail in the undertaking, they willingly 
mortgage themselves to their master, or to some other, 
for the wages above mentioned, and wait for some 
favourable opportunity to pay off the debt. Women 
never surrender themselves to work in a state of bondage, 
but are independent day-labourers. The Eravallars are, 
as certified by their masters, always truthful, honest, 
faithful and god-fearing, and never, like the Pulayas of 
the northern parts of the State, ungratefully run away 
from their masters. 

A girl, when she comes of age, is lodged in a separate 
hut (muttuchala) erected at a distance of a furlong from 
the main hut. Only a few girl friends are allowed to be 
in company with her during the period of her seclu- 
sion, which is generally seven days, during which food 
is served to her at a distance, when she comes to take 
it. No grown-up member approaches her, for fear of 
pollution. She bathes on the morning of the seventh 
day, and is then allowed to enter the hut. The day is 
one of festivity to her friends and relations. If a girl is 
married before she attains puberty, her husband contri- 
butes something for the expenses of the ceremony. 
Should a woman cohabit with a man before marriage 
and become pregnant, she used, in former times, to be 
put to death, but is now turned out of cas.te. Instances 
of the kind are, they say, extremely rare. 

An Eravallan who wishes to see his son married 
visits the parents of a girl with his brother-in-law and a 
few relatives, who make the proposal. If the parents 
agree, the wedding day is fixed, and all the preliminary 
arrangements are made at the hut of the bride, where 
the relatives assembled are treated to a dinner. The 


bride's price is only a rupee. The parents of the bride 
and bridegroom visit their respective landlords with a 
few packets of betel leaves, areca nuts, and tobacco, and 
inform them of the marriage proposal. The landlords 
give a few paras of paddy to defray a portion of the 
wedding expenses. They celebrate their weddings on 
Mondays. On a Monday previous to the wedding cere- 
mony, the sister of the bridegroom, with a few of her 
relations and friends, goes to the bride's hut, and presents 
her parents with the bride's money, and a brass ring for 
the bride. On the Monday chosen for the wedding, the 
same company, and a few more, go there, and dress the 
girl in the new garment brought by them. They are 
treated to a dinner as on the previous occasion. They 
then return with the bride to the hut of the bridegroom, 
where also the parties assembled are entertained. On 
the Monday after this, the bridegroom and bride are 
taken to the bride's hut, where they stay for a week, and 
then return to the bridegroom's hut. Marriage is now 
formally over. The tali (marriage badge) tying is dis- 
pensed with. This custom of marriage prevails among 
the Izhuvas of the Chittur taluk. The bridegroom gets 
nothing as a present during the wedding, but this is 
reserved for the Karkadaka Sankranthi, when he is 
invited by his father-in-law, and given two veshtis and a 
turban, after sumptuously feeding him. A widow can 
only marry a widower. It is called Mundakettuka 
(marrying a widow). When they both have children, the 
widower must make a solemn promise to his castemen that 
he will treat and support the children by both marriages 
impartially. The present of a brass ring and cloth is essen- 
tial. A man can divorce his wife, if he is not satisfied with 
her. The divorced wife can mate only with a widower. 
Such cases, they say, are very rare among them. 


No ceremony is performed for a pregnant woman 
during the fifth or seventh month. If she dreams of 
dogs, cats, or wild animals coming to threaten her, it is 
believed that she is possessed of demons. Then a devil- 
driver from this or some other caste is called in. He 
draws a hideous figure (kolam) on the floor with pow- 
dered rice, turmeric, and charcoal, and the woman is 
seated in front of it. He sings and beats his small drum, 
or mutters his mantram (consecrated formula). A lamp 
is lighted, and frankincense is burned. A kaibali is 
waved round the woman's face. She is worked up to a 
hysterical state, and makes frantic movements. Boiled 
rice, flattened rice, plantains, cocoanuts, and fowl are 
offered to the demon. Quite satisfied, the demon leaves 
her, or offers to leave her on certain conditions. If the 
woman remains silent and unmoved all the time, it is 
supposed that no demon resides in her body. Very 
often a yantram (charm) is made on a piece of cadjan 
(palm) leaf, and rolled. It is attached to a thread, and 
worn round the neck. 

A woman in childbirth is located in a separate small 
hut (muttuchala) erected at a distance from the main hut. 
Nobody attends upon her, except her mother or some old 
woman to nurse her. As soon as delivery takes place, 
the mother and child are bathed. Her pollution is for 
seven days, during which she stays in the hut. She then 
bathes, and is removed to another hut close to the main 
hut, and is again under pollution for five months. Her 
diet during this period is simple, and she is strictly for- 
bidden to take meat. The only medicine administered to 
her during the period is a mixture of pepper, dried ginger, 
and palm sugar mixed with toddy. She comes back to 
the main hut after purifying herself by a bath at the end 
of the five months. The day is one of festivity. 


The Eravallers bury their dead, and observe death 
pollution for five days. On the morning of the sixth 
day, the chief mourner, who may be the son or younger 
brother, gets shaved, bathes, and offers to the spirit of 
the departed boiled rice, parched rice, plantains, and 
fowl. A feast is given to the castemen once a year, 
when they have some savings. They think of their 
ancestors, who are propitiated with offerings. 

They are pure animists, and believe that the forests 
and hills are full of demons disposed to do them harm. 
Many of them are supposed to live in trees, and to rule 
wild beasts. They also believe that there are certain 
local demons, which are supposed to reside in rocks, 
trees, or peaks, having influence over particular families 
or villages, and that services rendered to them are 
intended to mitigate their hunger rather than to seek 
benefits. Their gods are Kali, Muni, Kannimar, and 
Karappu Rayan. Kali is adored to obtain her protection 
for themselves and their families while living in the 
forest. Muni is worshipped for the protection of their 
cattle, and to secure good harvest. Kannimar (the 
seven virgins) and Karappu Rayan are their family 
deities, who watch over their welfare. Offerings of boiled 
rice, plantains, cocoanuts, and flattened rice are given to 
propitiate them. Kali and Muni are worshipped in the 
forest, and the others in their huts. 

The main occupation of the Eravallers is ploughing 
dry lands for the cultivation of chama (Panicum milia- 
ceum) t cholam {Sorghum vulgare), dholl (Cajanus indicus) 
and gingelly (Sesamum indicum) seeds, and sowing the 
seeds, which begin in the middle of May, and harvesting 
in November. During these months, they are wholly 
occupied with agriculture. During the other months of 
the year, gardening, fencing, and thatching are their chief 


occupations. Offerings are made to Kali and Muni, 
when they plough, sow, and reap. They are so pro- 
pitiated, as they are supposed to protect their corn from 
destruction by wild beasts. The Eravallers are skilful 
hunters. Owing to their familiarity and acquaintance 
with the forests, they can point out places frequented by 
wild beasts, which they can recognise by smell, either to 
warn travellers against danger, or to guide sportsmen 
to the game. Ten or fifteen of them form a party, and 
are armed with knives, bows and arrows. Some of them 
act as beaters, and the animal is driven to a particular 
spot, where it is caught in a large net already spread, 
shot, or beaten to death. Animals hunted are hares, 
porcupines, and wild pigs. The game is always equally 
divided. Being good marksmen, they take skilful aim 
at birds, and kill them when flying. 

The ordinary dietary is kanji (gruel) ofchama or 
cholam, mixed with tamarind, salt and chillies, prepared 
overnight, and taken in the morning. The same is 
prepared for the midday meal, with a vegetable curry 
consisting of dholl, horse gram (Dolickos biflorus), and 
other grains grown in the garden of their masters, which 
they have to watch. They eat the flesh of sheep, 
fowls, pigs, hares, quails, and doves. They take food 
at the hands of Brahmans, Nayars, Kammalars, and 
Izhuvas. They refuse to take anything cooked by Man- 
nans, Panans, Parayans, and Cherumans. They bathe 
when touched by a Chakkiliyan, Parayan, or Cheruman. 
They stand a long way off from Brahmans and Nayars. 

Both men and women are decently clad. Males 
wear veshtis, one end of which hangs loose, and the other 
is tucked in between the legs. They have a shoulder 
cloth, either hanging loosely over their shoulders, or 
sometimes tied to the turban. They allow their hair to 


grow long, but do not, for want of means, anoint it 
with oil. They grow moustaches. They wear round 
the neck a necklace of small white beads to distinguish 
them from Malayars, who are always afraid of them. 
Some wear brass finger rings. Women wear a potava 
(coloured cloth), half of which is worn round the loins, 
while the other half serves to cover the body. The hair 
is not smoothed with oil. It is twisted into a knot on the 
back. It is said that they take an oil bath once a week. 
Their ear ornament is made of a long palmyra leaf rolled 
into a disc, and the ear lobes are sufficiently dilated to 
contain them. 

Erkollar. — A Tamil form of the Telugu Yerragolla, 
which is sub-division of Tottiyan. 

Ernadan.— In the Madras Census Report, 1901, 
the Aranadans are described as a hill tribe in Malabar, 
who kill pythons, and extract an oil from them, which 
they sell to people on the plains as a remedy for leprosy. 
These are, I have no doubt, the Ernadans, concerning 
whom Mr. G. Hadfield writes to me as follows. They 
are a small jungle tribe, found exclusively in Malabar, 
and are considered to be the lowest of the jungle tribes 
by the inhabitants of Malabar, who consider themselves 
polluted if an Ernadan approaches within a hundred 
yards. Even Paniyans and Pariahs give them a wide 
berth, and they are prohibited from coming within four 
hundred yards of a village. One of their customs is very 
singular, viz., the father of a family takes (or used to 
take) his eldest daughter as his second wife. The 
Ernadans use bows and arrows, principally for shooting 
monkeys, to the flesh of which they are very partial. 
They are not particular as to what they eat, and are, in 
fact, on a par with jackals in this respect, devouring 
snakes and the putrid flesh of various animals. They 

ERRA 218 

are fond of collecting the fat of snakes, and selling it. 
Muhammadans employ them in felling timber, and 
cultivating fields. Their clothing is exceedingly scanty, 
and, when hard up, they use wild plantain leaves for this 

Through Mr. Hadfield's influence with the tribe, 
Mr. F. Fawcett was able to examine a few members 
thereof, who appeared before him accompanied by their 
Mappilla master, at a signal from whom they ran off like 
hares, to attend to their work in the fields. Their most 
important measurements were as follows : — 

Max. Min. Av. 

Stature (cm.) .. .. 156*6 150*6 tSA'S 

Cephalic index . . "85 77 81 

Nasal index .. .. 108*8 71*1 88*4 

The Ernadans, according to these figures, are short of 
stature, platyrhine, with an unusually high cephalic index. 

Erra. — See Yerra. 

Erudandi.— S*^ Gangeddu. 

Erudukkaran. — See Gangeddu. 

Erumai (buffalo). — An exogamous sept of Toreya. 

Eruman.— A sub-division of Kolayan. 

Ettarai (eight and a half). — An exogamous sept of 
Tamil goldsmiths. 

Ettuvitan.— Recorded, in the Travancore Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as a sub-division of Nayar. 

Eurasian.— Eurasian (Eur-asian) may, after the 
definition in ' Hobson-Jobson,' * be summed up as a 
modern name for persons of mixed European and Indian 
blood, devised as being more euphemistic than half-caste, 
and more precise than East- Indian. When the European 
and Anglo-Indian Defence Association was established 

* Yule and Burnell, 2nd cd., 1903. 


17 years ago, the term Anglo-Indian, after much consi- 
deration, was adopted as best designating the community. 
According to Stocqueler, * the name Eurasian was 
invented by the Marquis of Hastings. East Indian is 
defined by Balfour t as " a term which has been adopted 
by all classes of India to distinguish the descendants of 
Europeans and Native mothers. Other names, such as 
half-caste, chatikar, and chi-chi, are derogatory desig- 
nations. Chattikar is from chitta (trousers) and kar (a 
person who uses them). The Muhammadans equally 
wear trousers, but concealed by their outer long gowns. 
The East Indians are also known as Farangi (Frank), a 
person of Europe. The humbler East Indians, if asked 
their race, reply that they are Wallandez or Oollanday, 
which is a modification of Hollandais, the name having 
been brought down through the seventeenth and eigh- 
teenth centuries from the Dutch. East Indians have, in 
India, all the rights and privileges of Europeans. Races 
with a mixture of European with Asiatic blood possess a 
proud and susceptible tone of mind." For the purposes 
of the Lawrence Asylum, Ootacamund, the word East 
Indian is restricted to the children of European fathers 
by East Indian or Native mothers, or of East Indian 
fathers and mothers, both of whom are the children of 
European fathers. 

By a ruling of the Government of India a few years 
ago, it was decided that Eurasians appointed in England 
to official posts in India are, if they are not statutory 
Natives, to be treated as Europeans as regards the 
receipt of exchange compensation allowance. 

Some Eurasians have, it may be noted, had decora- 
tions or knighthood conferred on them, and risen to the 

* Handbook of British India, 1854. t Cyclopaedia of India. 


highest position in, and gained the blue ribbon of, 
Government service. Others have held, or still hold, 
positions of distinction in the various learned professions, 
legal, medical, educational, and ecclesiastical. 

The influence of the various European nations — 
Portuguese, Dutch, British, Danish, and French — which 
have at different times acquired territory in peninsular 
India, is clearly visible in the polyglot medley of Eurasian 
surnames, e.g., Gomes, Da Souza, Gonsalvez, Rozario, 
Cabral, Da Cruz, Da Costa, Da Silva, Da Souza, 
Fernandez, Fonseca, Lazaro, Henriquez, Xavier, Men- 
donza, Rodriguez, Saldana, Almeyda, Heldt, Van Spall, 
Jansen, Augustine, Brisson, Corneille, La Grange, 
Lavocat, Pascal, DeVine, Aubert, Ryan, McKertish, 
Macpherson, Harris, Johnson, Smith, etc. Little did the 
early adventurers, in the dawn of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, think that, as the result of their alliances with the 
native women, within three centuries banns of marriage 
would be declared weekly in Madras churches between, 
for example, Ben Jonson and Alice Almeyda, Emmanuel 
Henricus and Mary Smith, Augustus Rozario and Minnie 
Fonseca, John Harris and Clara Corneille. Yet this has 
come to pass, and the Eurasian holds a recognised place 
among the half-breed races of the world. 

The pedigree of the early Eurasian community is 
veiled in obscurity. But the various modes of creation 
of a half-breed, which were adopted in those early days, 
when the sturdy European pioneers first came in contact 
with the native females, were probably as follows : — 

A. European man (pure) . . B. Native woman (pure). 
C. Male offspring of A + B 

(first cross) . . . . D. Native woman. 

E. Female offspring of A + B JF. European man. 

(first cross) .. .. I G. Native man. 


f I. Cross — female offspring of 
H. Male offspring of C + D \ A -f B. 

LJ. Native woman. 
C L. Cross — male offspring of 
A -j-B. 
M. European man. 
LN. Native man. 

K. Female offspring of C + D 

The Eurasian half-breed, thus established, has been 
perpetuated by a variety of possible combinations : — 

t-, r Eurasian woman. 

European man . . . . J 

I Native woman. 

f Native woman. 

Eurasian man . . . . ^ Eurasian woman. 

L European woman. 

„ . r Eurasian woman. 

Native man . . . . . . J 

I European woman. 

In the early days of the British occupation of Madras, 
the traders and soldiers, arriving with an inadequate 
equipment of females, contracted alliances, regular or 
irregular, with the women of the country. And in these 
early days, when our territorial possessions were keenly 
contested with both European and Native enemies, an 
attempt was made, under authority from high places, to 
obtain, through the medium of the British soldier, and 
in accordance with the creed that crossing is an essential 
means of improving a race, and rendering it vigorous 
by the infusion of fresh blood from a separate stock, 
a good cross, which should be available for military 
purposes. Later on, as the number of the British 
settlers increased, connexions, either with the Native 
women, or with the females of the recently established 
Eurasian type, were kept up owing to the difficulty 
of communication with the mother-country, and conse- 
quent difficulty in securing English brides. Of these 
barbaric days the detached or semi-detached bungalows 
in the spacious grounds of the old private houses in 


Madras remain as a memorial. At the present day the 
conditions of life in India are, as the result of steamer 
traffic, very different, and far more wholesome. The 
Eurasian man seeks a wife as a rule among his own 
community ; and, in this manner, the race is mainly 

The number of Eurasians within the limits of the 
Madras Presidency was returned, at the census, 1891, as 
26,643. But on this point I must call Mr. H. A. Stuart, 
the Census Commissioner, into the witness box. " The 
number of Eurasians," he writes, " is 26,643, which is 
2076 per cent, more than the number returned in 1881." 
The figures for the last three enumerations are given in 
the following statement : — 

Year. Total. 

1871 .. .. 26,460 

1881 .. .. 21,892 

1891 .. .. 26,643 

" It will be seen that, between 1871 and 1881, there 
was a great decrease, and that the numbers in 1891 are 
slightly higher than they were twenty years ago. The 
figures, however, are most untrustworthy. The cause is 
not far to seek ; many persons, who are really Natives, 
claim to be Eurasians, and some who are Eurasians 
return themselves as Europeans. It might be thought 
that the errors due to these circumstances would be 
fairly constant, but the district figures show that this 
cannot be the case. Take Malabar, for example, which 
has the largest number of Eurasians after Madras, and 
where the division between Native Christians with 
European names and people of real mixed race is very 
shadowy. In 1871 there were in this district 5,413 
Eurasians ; in 1881 the number had apparently fallen to 
1,676 ; while in 1891 it had again risen to 4,193, or, if we 
include South-east Wynaad, as we should do, to 4,439. 



i3>°9 r 




i3» J 4i 

i3»S° 2 


It is to be regretted that trustworthy statistics cannot be 
obtained, for the question whether the true Eurasian 
community is increasing or decreasing is of considerable 
scientific and administrative importance. The Eurasians 
form but a very small proportion of the community, for 
there is only one Eurasian in every 1,337 of the popu- 
lation of the Madras Presidency, and it is more than 
probable that a considerable proportion of those returned 
as Eurasians are in reality pure Natives who have 
embraced the Christian religion, taken an English or 
Portuguese name, and adopted the European dress and 
mode of living. In the matter of education, or at least 
elementary education, they are more advanced than any 
other class of the community, and compare favourably 
with the population of any country in the world. They 
live for the most part in towns, nearly one-half of their 
number being found in the city of Madras." 

In connection with the fact that, at times of census, 
Native Christians and Pariahs, who masquerade in 
European clothes, return themselves as Eurasians, and 
vice versa, it may be accepted that some benefit must be 
derived by the individual in return for the masking of 
his or her nationality. And it has been pointed out to 
me that (as newspaper advertisements testify) many 
ladies will employ a Native ayah rather than a Eurasian 
nurse, and that some employers will take Eurasian 
clerks into their service, but not Native Christians. It 
occasionally happens that pure-bred Natives, with Euro- 
pean name and costume, successfully pass themselves off 
as Eurasians, and are placed on a footing of equality 
with Eurasians in the matter of diet, being allowed the 
luxury of bread and butter, coffee, etc. 

Mr. Stuart had at his command no special statistics of 
the occupations resorted to by Eurasians, but states that 



the majority of them are clerks, while very few obtain their 
livelihood by agriculture. In the course of my investi- 
gations in the city of Madras, the following occupations 
were recorded : — 


Attendant, Lunatic Asylum. 



Bill collector. 


Boarding-house keeper. 


Boiler smith. 


Chemist's assistant. 

Clerk, Government. 

Clerk, commercial. 

Commission agent. 





Crane attendant, harbour. 


Electric tram driver. 

Electric tram inspector. 

Engine-driver, ice factory. 










Livery stable-keeper. 



Petition writer. 
Police Inspector. 
Railway — 





Goods clerk. 


Locomotive Inspector. 

Parcels clerk. 

Prosecuting Inspector. 





Ticket collector. 


Block signaller. 

Carriage examiner. 
Telegraph clerk. 



In the Census Report, 1901, the following statistics 
of the occupation of 5,718 Eurasians in Madras city 
(4,083), Malabar (1,149) and Chingleput (486) are given. 
Most of those in the last of these three reside in 
Perambur, just outside the Madras municipal limits : — 



Endowments, scholarships, etc 813 

Pensioners... ... ... ... ... ... 438 

Railway clerks, station-masters, guards, etc. ... 427 

Tailors 378 

Merchants' and shop-keepers' clerks ... ... 297 

Railway operatives ... ... ... ... 262 

Teachers ... ... ... ... ... ... 243 

Public service ... ... ... ... ... 212 

Private clerks ... ... ... ... ... 211 

Mechanics (not railway) ... ... ... ... 203 

Carpenters ... ... ... ... ... ... 167 

Telegraph department 136 

Medical department 136 

Cooks, grooms, etc. ... 132 

Printing presses : workmen and subordinates ... 106 

Independent means ... ... 75 

Allowances from patrons, relatives and friends ... 72 

Survey and Public Works department 66 

Coffee and tea estate clerks and coolies 60 

Inmates of asylums 5 8 

Railway porters, etc 57 

Musicians and actors 54 

Harbour service ... ••• ••• 5° 

Workmen, gun carriage factories 48 

Postal department 48 

Non-commissioned officers, Army 46 

Mendicants 45 

Midwives 42 





Priests, ministers, etc. ... ... ... ... 4 1 

Tramway officials ... ... ... ... ... 35 

Sellers of hides and bones, shoe and boot makers, 

tanners, etc. ... ... ... ... ... 33 

Local and Municipal service ... ... ... 30 

Shipping clerks, etc. ... ... ... ... 29 

Brokers and agents ... ... ... ... 28 

Lawyers' clerks ... ... ... ... ... 26 

Merchants and shop-keepers ... ... ... 24 

Landholders ... ... ... ... ... 24 

Watch and clock makers ... ... ... ... 23 

Money-lenders, etc. ... ... ... ... 22 

Military clerks ... ... ... ... ... 21 

Blacksmiths ... 18 

Chemists and druggists ... ... ... ... 16 

Prisoners ... ... ... ... ... ... 15 

Pleaders ... ... ... ... ... ... 12 

Brass and copper smiths ... ... ... ... 12 

Inmates of convents, etc. ... 11 

Ship's officers, etc. ... ... ... ... 10 

Prostitutes ... ... ... ... ... ... 10 

Authors, editors, etc. ... .. ... ... 10 

Cultivating tenants 8 

Club managers, etc. ... ... 8 

Hotel-keepers, etc. 7 

Minor occupations .. ... 363 

As bearing on the subject of Eurasian marriage, I am 
enabled, through the courtesy of a railway chaplain and 
the chaplain of one of the principal churches in the city 
of Madras, to place on record the following statistics 
abstracted from the registers. It may, in explanation, 
be noted that M indicates the bridegroom, F the bride, 
and W widow or widower remarriage : — 

(a) Railway. 


























































W 42 




W 45 
























W 42 















(J>) Madras City. 













W 40 




W 39 





















W 24 








W 35 

























W 46 














W 38 












11-15 B 


(6) Madras City — cont. 












W 30 

W 53 




W 40 















W 36 








W 30 





W 42 


Analysing these figures, with the omission of re- 
marriages, we obtain the following results : — 

(a) Railway. 

Bridegroom. Bride. 

Average age 25-26 18-19 

Mean above average ... 28-29 19-20 

Mean below average ... 23-24 16-17 

Range of age 40-20 28-14 

{b) Madras City. 

Bridegroom. Bride. 

26-27 19-20 

28-29 21-22 

... 23-24 17-18 

... 40-20 3 I-I 4 

Average age 
Mean above average 
Mean below average 
Range of age 

From the analysis of a hundred male cases in Madras, 
in which enquiries were made with reference to the 
married state, in individuals ranging in age from 21 to 
50, with an average age of 33, I learn that 74 were 
married ; that 141 male and 130 female children had been 
born to them ; and that 26, whose average age was 25, 
were unmarried. The limits of age of the men at the 
time of marriage were 32 and 16 ; of their wives 25 and 
13. The greatest number of children born to a single 


pair was 10. In only three cases, out of the seventy- 
four, was there no issue. In fifty cases, which were 
examined, of married men, with an average age of 34, 
207 children had been born, of whom 91 had died, for 
the most part in early life, from ' fever ' and other causes. 
The racial position of Eurasians, and the proportion 
of black blood in their veins, are commonly indicated, not 
by the terms mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, sambo (or 
zambo), etc., but in fractions of a rupee. The European 
pure breed being represented by Rs. 0-0-0, and the 
Native pure breed by 16 annas (= 1 rupee), the resultant 
cross is, by reference to colour and other tests, gauged 
as being half an anna in the rupee (faint admixture of 
black blood), approaching European types ; eight annas 
(half and half) ; fifteen annas (predominant admixture 
of black blood), approaching Native types, etc. 

The Eurasian body being enveloped in clothes, it was 
not till they stripped before me, for the purpose of 
anthropometry, that I became aware how prevalent is the 
practice of tattooing among the male members of the 
community. Nearly all the hundred and thirty men 
(of the lower classes) whom I examined were, in fact, 
tattooed to a greater or less extent on the breasts, upper 
arms, forearms, wrists, back of the hands, or shoulders. 
The following varied selection of devices in blue, with 
occasional red, is recorded in my case-book : — 


Ballet girl with flag, stars and stripes. 

Bracelets round wrists. 

Burmese lady carrying umbrella. 



Conventional artistic devices. 

Cross and anchor. 

Crown and flags. 


Crossed swords and pistols. 


Dancing-girl playing with cobras. 


Floral devices. 

Flowers in pot. 

Hands joined in centre of a heart 

Hands joined, and clasping a flower. 


Heart and cross. 

Initials of the individual, his friends, relatives, and inamorata, 

sometimes within a heart or laurel wreath. 

Mercy (word on left breast). 

Portraits of the man and his lady-love. 
Queen Alexandra. 
Royal arms and banners. 
Sailing boat 
Solomon's seal. 
Steam boat 

Svastika (Buddhist emblem). 
Watteau shepherdess. 

The most elaborate patterns were executed by- 
Burmese tattooers. The initials of the individual's 
Christian and surnames, which preponderated over other 
devices, were, as a rule, in Roman, but occasionally in 
Tamil characters. 

In colour the Eurasians afford examples of the entire 
colour scale, through sundry shades of brown and yellow, 
to pale white, and even florid or rosy. The pilous or 
hairy system was, in the cases recorded by me, uniformly 
black. The colour of the iris, like that of the skin, is 
liable to great variation, from lustrous black to light, 
with a predominance of dark tints. Blue was observed 
only in a solitary instance. 



The Eurasian resists exposure to the sun better than 
the European, and, while many wear solah topis (pith 
sun-hats), it is by no means uncommon to see a Eurasian 
walking about in the middle of a hot day with his head 
protected only by a straw hat or cap. 

The average height of the Eurasians examined by 
me in Madras, according to my measurements of 130 
subjects, is 166*6 cm. (5 feet 5 \ inches), and compares 
as follows with that of the English and various Native 

s lnnaDiting tne city 01 Ms 

tdras : — 


English ... 




Muhammadans ... 






Vellalas ... 




The height, as might be expected, comes between 
that of the two parent stocks, European and Native, and 
had, in the cases examined, the wide range of 30*8 cm., 
the difference between a maximum of 183*8 cm. (6 feet) 
and a minimum of 153 cm. (5 feet). 

The average length of the head was i8 # 6 cm. and 
the breadth 14*1 cm. And it is to be noted that, in 
63 per cent, of the cases examined, the breadth exceeded 
14 cm. : — 







.. i8'6 




.. 18-6 




.. 187 




.. 18-6 




.. 18-6 



Pallis ... 

.. 18-6 




The breadth of the head is very clearly brought out 
by the following analysis of forty subjects belonging to 
each of the above six classes, which shows at a glance 
the preponderance of heads exceeding 14 cm. in breadth 
in Eurasians, Brahmans, and (to a less extent) in 
Muhammadans : — 































J 3 







The head of a cross-breed, it has been said, generally 
takes after the father, and the breadth of the Eurasian 
head is a persisting result of European male influence. 
The effect of this influence is clearly demonstrated in 
the following cases, all the result of re-crossing between 
British men and Eurasian women : — 













J 9 







Eurasian average 

... l8'6 


The character of the nose is, as those who have 
studied ethnology in India will appreciate, a most 
important factor in the differentiation of race, tribe, and 
class, and in the determination of pedigree. " No one," 


Mr. Risley writes, * " can have glanced at the literature 
of the subject, and in particular, at the V6dic accounts 
of the Aryan advance, without being struck by the 
frequent references to the noses of the people whom 
the Aryans found in possession of the plains of India. 
So impressed were the Aryans with the shortcomings of 
their enemies' noses that they often spoke of them as 
1 the noseless ones,' and their keen perception of the 
importance of this feature seems almost to anticipate the 
opinion of Dr. Collignon that the nasal index ranks 
higher as a distinctive character than the stature, or 
even the cephalic index itself." 

In the subjoined table, based on the examination of 
forty members of each class, the high proportion of 
leptorhine Eurasians, Muhammadans, and Vellalas, with 
nasal indices ranging between 60 and 70, is at once 

manifest, and requires no comment : — 

Eurasians ... ... 19 

Muhammadans ... 17 

Vellalas ... ... 14 

Pallis 3 

Paraiyans ... ... 2 

I pass on to the Eurasians of the west coast. My 
visit to Calicut, the capital of the Malabar district, was 
by chance coincident with the commemoration of the 
four hundredth anniversary of the arrival of Vasco 
da Gama at Calicut after his discovery of the sea-route 
from Europe to India. Concerning the origin of the 
Indo- Portuguese half-breed, I learn t that, on his return 
from the recapture of Goa, Albuquerque brought with 
him the women he had carried away when the Portuguese 













2 5 






* Journ. Anth. Inst., XX, 1891. 

f Danvers. The Portuguese in India, 1894. 


were driven out of the place. As soon as affairs became 
tolerably settled again at that port, he had them con- 
verted to Christianity, and married them to Portuguese 
men. No less than 450 of his men were thus married 
in Goa, and others who desired to follow their example 
were so numerous that Albuquerque had great difficulty 
in granting their requests. The marriage of Portuguese 
men to native women had already been sanctioned by 
Dom Manuel, but this privilege was only to be conceded 
to men of proved character, and who had rendered good 
service. Albuquerque, however, extended the permis- 
sion to many far beyond what he was authorised to do, 
and he took care that the women so married were the 
daughters of the principal men of the land. This he did 
in the hope of inducing them to become Christians. To 
those who were married Albuquerque allotted lands, 
houses and cattle, so as to give them a start in life, and 
all the landed property which had been in possession of 
the Moorish mosques and Hindu pagodas he gave to 
the principal churches of the city, which he dedicated to 
Santa Catherina. 

The names of some members of the community at 
Calicut recalled to mind Pedro Alvares Cabral, who 
anchored before Calicut in 1500, and established a 
factory at Cochin ; the first Portuguese Governor, Dom 
Franciso de Almeida ; Andre^ Furtado de Mendonca, 
who concluded a treaty with the king of Calicut ; and 
many others, whose exploits are handed down to posterity 
in the Indo- Portuguese archives. Though Portuguese 
names persist at the present day, it does not follow of 
necessity that their owners have any Portuguese blood 
in their veins, for some are merely descendants of Native 
converts to Christianity, or of household slaves of 
Portuguese officers, " In Malabar," writes the Census 


Commissioner, 1881, " there is a section of Europeanized 
Native' Christians — Goa Roman Catholics — some of 
whom have adopted European dress and customs ; and 
in all districts the popular interpretation of the word 
Eurasian is very liberal. There are many Pariahs and 
Native Christians, who have adopted a travesty of 
European clothes, and who would return themselves as 
Eurasians, if allowed to do so." 

A social distinction is maae at Calicut between 
Eurasians and East Indians. With a view at clearing up 
the grounds on which this distinction is based, my inter- 
preter was called on to submit a note on the subject, which 
arrived couched in language worthy of Mark Twain. 
I, therefore, reproduce it in the original Indo-Anglian. 

" Eurasians are classified to those who stand second 
in the list of Europeans and those born in any part of 
India, and who are the Pedigree of European descend- 
ants, being born of father European and mother East 
Indian, and notwithstanding those who can prove them- 
selves as really good Indian descendants, such as mother 
and father of the same sex, therefore these are called 

" East Indians are those offsprings of Christians of 
the East, and they atimes gather the offsprings of Eura- 
sians to the entering their marriage to the East Indian 
females in the East Indian community, thereby they 
are called East Indians. 

" Native Christians are those of Hindu nations 
converted into Christians by their embracing the poles 
of Christianity. All Hindus thereby converted are 
made Christians by a second Baptism are called Native 

" Coaster. They are alluded to those who belong to 
the Coast, and who come from a country that has a Sea 



Coast into that country that has not got a Sea Coast 
is therefore called a Coaster. A very rude word." 

Speaking in general terms, it may be said that 
Eurasians are of greater stature, and possess skins of 
lighter hue than the East Indians, who, as the result 
of intermarriage with Native Christian women, have 
reverted in the direction of the Native type. 

The Eurasians examined by me at Calicut, nearly all 
of whom were Roman Catholics, were earning a liveli- 
hood in the following capacities : — 






Coffee estate writer. 




Municipal inspector. 



Police constable. 

Railway guard. 





As in Madras, so in Malabar, tattooing is very preva- 
lent among the male members of the community, and 
the devices are characterised by a predominance of 
religious emblems and snakes. The following patterns 
are recorded in my notes : — 

Bangle on wrist. 
Boat . 

Bird (the Holy Ghost). 

Christ crucified. 
Conventional and geo- 
metrical designs. 

Cross and crown. 
Cross and heart. 
Cross and I.N.R.I. 
Crossed swords. 


Flower and leaves. 
Sacred heart. 

Snake encircling forearms. 
Snake coiled round fore- 
Solomon's seal. 
Steam boat 


There are, in North Malabar, many individuals, whose 
fathers were European. Writing, in 1887, concerning 
the Tiyan community, Mr. Logan states * that " the 
women are not as a rule excommunicated if they live 
with Europeans, and the consequence is that there has 
been among them a large admixture of European blood, 
and the caste itself has been materially raised in the 
social scale. In appearance some of the women are 
almost as fair as Europeans." On this point, the Report 
of the Malabar Marriage Commission, 1894, states that 
"in the early days of British rule, the Tiyan women 
incurred no social disgrace by consorting with Europeans, 
and, up to the last generation, if the Sudra girl could 
boast of her Brahmin lover, the Tiyan girl could show 
more substantial benefits from her alliance with a white 
man of the ruling race. Happily the progress of educa- 
tion, and the growth of a wholesome public opinion, have 
made shameful the position of a European's concubine ; 
and both races have thus been saved from a mode of life 
equally demoralizing to each." 

During a visit to Ootacamund on the Nllgiri hills, 
I was enabled to examine the physique of the elder boys 
at the Lawrence Asylum, the object of which is "to 
provide for children of European and East Indian officers 
and soldiers of Her Majesty's Army (British and Native), 
and of Europeans and East Indians in the Medical 
Service, military and civil, who are serving, or have 
served within the limits of the Presidency of Madras, a 
refuge from the debilitating effects of a tropical climate, 
and from the serious drawbacks to the well-being of 
children incidental to a barrack life ; to afford for them 
a plain, practical, and religious education ; and to train 

* Manual of Malabar. 


them for employment in different trades, pursuits, and 
industries." As the result of examination of thirty-three 
Eurasian boys, I was able to testify to the excellence of 
their physical condition.* A good climate, with a mean 
annual temperature of 5 8°, good food, and physical 
training, have produced a set of boys well-nourished and 
muscular, with good chests, shoulders, and body weight. 
Some final words are necessary on liability to certain 
diseases, as a differentiating character between Eurasians 
and Europeans. The Census Commissioner, 1891, states 
that Eurasians seem to be peculiarly liable to insanity 
and leprosy. To these should be added elephantiasis 
(filarial disease), concerning which Surgeon-Major J. 
Maitland writes as follows, t " Almost all the old writers 
on elephantiasis believed that the dark races were more 
susceptible to the disease than white people ; but it is 
extremely doubtful if this is the case. It is true that, in 
those countries where the disease is endemic, the propor- 
tion of persons affected is much greater among the blacks 
than among the whites ; but it has to be borne in mind 
that the habits of the former render them much more 
liable to the disease than the latter. The majority of the 
white people, being more civilised, are more careful 
regarding the purity of their drinking water than the 
Natives, who are proverbially careless in this respect. 
In India, although it is comparatively rare to meet with 
Europeans affected with the disease, yet such cases are 
from time to time recorded. Eurasians are proportion- 
ately more liable to the disease than pure Europeans, 
but not so much so as Natives. Doctors Patterson and 
Hall of BahiaJ examined the blood of 309 persons in 

* See Madras Museum Bulletin, II, 2, Table XXVI, 1 1 
f Elephantiasis and allied disorders, Madras, 1891. 
% Veterinarian, June, 1879. 


that place, and found the following proportions affected 
with filaria; of whites, i in 26 ; of blacks, 1 in 10J; of 
the mixed race, 1 in 9. Doctor Laville * states that, 
in the Society Islands, out of a total of 13 European and 
American residents, 1 1 were affected with elephantiasis. 
Taking all these facts into consideration, together with 
our knowledge of the pathology of the disease, I do not 
think we are justified in saying that the black races are 
more susceptible to the disease than white people. On 
the other hand, owing to the nature of their habits, they 
are much more liable to the diseases than are the white 
races." During the five years 1893-97, ninety-eight 
Eurasians suffering from filarial diseases were admitted 
into the General Hospital, Madras. 

To Colonel W. A. Lee, I. M.S., Superintendent of 
the Government Leper Asylum, Madras, I am indebted 
for the following note on leprosy in its relation to the 
Eurasian and European communities. " Europeans 
are by no means immune to the disease, which, in the 
majority of instances, is contracted by them through 
coitus with leprous individuals. Leprosy is one of the 
endemic diseases of tropical and sub-tropical countries, 
to the risk of contracting which Europeans who settle on 
the plains of India, and their offspring from unions with 
the inhabitants of the land, as well as the descendants 
of the latter, become exposed, since, by the force of 
circumstances, they are thrown into intimate contact 
with the Native population. The Eurasian community 
furnishes a considerable number of lepers, and the 
disease, once introduced into a family, has a tendency 
to attack several of its members, and to reappear in 
successive generations, occasionally skipping one — a 

* Endemic Skin and other Diseases of India. Fox and Farquhar. 


feature akin to the biological phenomenon known as 
atavism, but of perhaps doubtful analogy, for the 
possibility of a fresh infection or inoculation has always 
to be borne in mind. There are numerous instances of 
such hereditary transmission among the patients, both 
Native and Eurasian, in the Leper Hospital. The 
spread of the disease by contagion is slow, the most 
intimate contact even, such as that between parent and 
child, often failing to effect inoculation. Still there is 
much evidence in support of its being inoculable by 
cohabitation, prolonged contact, wearing the same 
clothing, sharing the dwelling, using the same cooking 
and eating utensils, and even by arm-to-arm vaccination. 
Influenced by a belief in the last mentioned cause, 
vaccination was formerly regarded with much suspicion 
and dislike by Eurasians in Madras. But their appre- 
hensions on this score have abated since animal vaccine 
was substituted for the humanised material. It has 
also for long been a popular belief among the same 
class that the suckling of their infants by infected 
Native wet-nurses is a common source of the disease. 
Attempts to reproduce leprosy from supposed pure 
cultures of the leprosy bacillus have invariably failed, 
and this strengthens the belief that the disease would 
die out if sufferers from the tubercular or mixed forms 
were segregated, and intermarriage with members of 
known leprous families interdicted. Experience shows 
that, where such marriages are freely entered into, a 
notable prevalence of the disease results, as at Pondi- 
cherry for example, where the so-called Creole population 
is said to contain a large proportion of lepers from this 

Writing concerning the prevalence of insanity in 
different classes, the Census Commissioner, 1891, states 



that " it appears from the statistics that insanity is far 
more prevalent among the Eurasians than among any 
other class. The proportion is i insane person in every 
410. For England and Wales the proportion is 1 in 
every 307, and it is significant that the section of the 
population of Madras, which shows the greatest liability 
to insanity, is that which has an admixture of European 
blood. I have no information regarding the prevalence 
of insanity among Eurasians for any other province or 
State in India except Mysore, and there the proportion 
is 1 in 306." 

For the following tabular statement of admissions 
into the Government Lunatic Asylum, Madras, I am 
indebted to Captain C. H. Leet-Palk, I. M.S. : — 












































Leaving out of question the Europeans, in whom, 
owing to the preponderance of the male sex in Madras, 
a greater number of male than female lunatics is to be 
expected, and considering only Eurasians and Natives, 
the far higher proportion of female as compared with 
male lunatics in the Eurasian than in the Native com- 
munity, is very conspicuous. Taking, for example, the 
numbers remaining in the Asylum in 1894. Whereas 
the proportion of Eurasian males to females was ^^ : '3 I > 
that of Natives was 30*6 : 6*8 ; and the high proportion 
11— 16 

GABIT 242 

of female Eurasian inmates was visible in other years. 
The subject seems to be one worthy of further study by 
those competent to deal with it. 

Gabit.— A Bombay fishing caste returned at the 
census, 1901. To Malpe in the South Canara district, 
during the fishing season, come fishermen with a flotilla 
of keeled and outrigged sailing boats from Ratnagiri in 
the Bombay Presidency. H ither also come fishermen from 
Goa. The reasons given by the Ratnagiri fishermen 
for coming southward are that fish are not so abundant 
off their own coast, competition is keener, and salt more 
expensive. Moreover, the crystals of Bombay salt are 
too large for successful curing, and "do not agree with 
the fish, of which the flesh is turned black." If, they 
said contemptuously, they were to sun-dry fish by the 
local method, their people would laugh at them for 
bringing back, not fish, but dried cow-dung for fuel. 
The Ratnagiri boats go well out of sight of land to the 
fishing ground, where they catch seir, pomfret, cat-fish 
(Arzus), and other big fish near the surface, and sharks 
in deeper water. If the fishing is not good near Malpe, 
they may go south as far as Mangalore. To the Ratna- 
giri fishermen the seir {Cybium) is the most valuable 
and lucrative fish. Under existing arrangements, by 
which clashing of interests is avoided, the fishery at 
Malpe is divided into two zones, viz., the deep sea fished 
by the large Ratnagiri boats, and the shallow littoral 
water by the smaller local and Goa boats. 

Gadaba.— The Gadabas are a tribe of agriculturists, 
coolies, and hunters in the Vizagapatam district. 
Hunting is said to be gradually decreasing, as many of 
the forests are now preserved, and shooting without a 

243 GAD ABA 

license is forbidden. Men sometimes occupy themselves 
in felling trees, catching birds and hares, and tracking 
and beating game for sportsmen. The Gadabas are 
also employed as bearers in the hills, and carry palan- 
quins. There is a settlement of them on the main road 
between Sembliguda and Koraput, in a village where 
they are said to have been settled by a former Raja 
expressly for such service. It is said that the Gadabas 
will not touch a horse, possibly because they are palanquin- 
bearers, and have the same objection to the rival animal 
that a cabman has for a motor-car. 

There is a tradition that the tribe owes its name to 
the fact that its ancestors emigrated from the banks of 
the Godabari (Godavari) river, and settled at Nandapur, 
the former capital of the Rajas of Jeypore. The 
Gadabas have a language of their own, of which a 
vocabulary is given in the Vizagapatam Manual. This 
language is included by Mr. G. A. Grierson * in the 
Munda linguistic family. 

The tribe is apparently divided into five sections, 
called Bodo (big) or Gutob, Parenga, Olaro, Kaththiri 
or Kaththara, and Kapu. Of these, the last two are 
settled in the plains, and say that they are Bodo and 
Olaro Gadabas who migrated thither from the hills. 
As among the Gadabas, so among the Savaras, there is 
a section which has settled on the plains, and adopted 
Kapu as its name. In the Madras Census Report, 1891, 
nearly a thousand Gadabas are returned as belonging 
to the Chenchu sub-division. Chenchu is the name 
of a separate jungle tribe in the Telugu country, and I 
have been unable to confirm the existence of a Chenchu 
sub-division among the Gadabas. 

* Linguistic Survey of India IV, 1906. 
II-J.6 B 


In the Madras Census Report, 1871, Mr. H. G. 
Turner states that " very much akin to the Gadabas are 
a class called Kerang Kapus. They will not admit any 
connexion with them ; but, as their language is almost 
identical, such gainsaying cannot be permitted them. 
They are called Kerang Kapu from the circumstance of 
their women weaving cloths, which they weave from 
the fibre of a jungle shrub called Kerang (Calotropis 
gigantea)." Mr. H. A. Stuart remarks * that "the Kapu 
Gadabas are possibly the Kerang Kapus mentioned by 
Mr. Turner as akin to the Gadabas, for I find no mention 
of the caste under the full name of Kerang Kapu, nor 
is Kerang found as a sub-division of either Kapu or 
Gadaba." Writing concerning the numeral system of the 
Kerang Kapus, Mr. Turner observes that it runs thus : 
Moi, Umbar, Jugi, O, Malloi, Turu, Gu, Tammar, 
Santing, Goa, and for eleven (1 and following numbers), 
they prefix the word Go, e.g., Gommoi, Gombaro, etc. 
The Kerang Kapus can count up to nineteen, but have 
no conception of twenty. According to Mr. W. Francis, 
the only tribe on the hills which has this system of 
notation is the Bonda Poraja. The Gadabas have very 
similar names for the first five numerals ; but, after that, 
lapse into Oriya, e.g., sat, at, no, das, etc. The Bonda 
Poraja numerals recorded by Mr. Francis are muyi, 
baar, gii, 00, moloi, thiri, goo, thamam, and so on up to 
nineteen, after which they cannot count. This system, 
as he points out, agrees with the one described by 
Mr. Turner as belonging to the Kerang Kapus. The 
Gutob Gadaba numerals recorded by Mr. C. A. 
Henderson include muititti (1 + a hand), and martini 
(2 + a hand). 

* Madras Census Report, 1891. 


Some Gadaba women wear a bustle or dress 
improver, called irre or kitte. This article of attire is 
accounted for by the following tradition. " A goddess 
visited a Gadaba village incognito, and asked leave of 
one of the women to rest on a cot. She was brusquely 
told that the proper seat for beggars was the floor, and 
she consequently decreed that thenceforth all Gadaba 
women should wear a bustle to remind them to avoid 
churlishness." * The Gadaba female cloths are manu- 
factured by themselves from cotton thread and the 
fibre of silloluvada or ankudi chettu (Holarrhena anti- 
dysenterica) and boda luvada or bodda chettu (Ficus 
glomerata). The fibre is carefully dried, and dyed blue 
or reddish-brown. The edges of the cloth are white, 
a blue strip comes next, while the middle portion is 
reddish-brown with narrow stripes of white or blue at 
regular intervals. The Gadabas account for the dress 
of their women by the following legend. When Rama, 
during his banishment, was wandering in the forests of 
Dandaka, his wife Sita accompanied him in spite of his 
entreaties to the contrary. It was one of the cruel 
terms of his stepmother Kaika that Rama should wear 
only clothing made from jungle fibre, before leaving the 
capital. According to the Hindu religion, a virtuous 
wife must share both the sorrows and joys of her lord. 
Consequently Sita followed the example of Rama, and 
wore the same kind of clothing. They then left the 
capital amidst the loud lamentation of the citizens. 
During their wanderings, they met some Gadaba women, 
who mocked and laughed at Sita. Whereupon she 
cursed them, and condemned them to wear no other 
dress but the cloth made of fibre. In a note on the 

* Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district. 


Gadabas,* Mr. L. Lakshminarayanjwrites that "[although 
mill-prepared cloths are fast replacing house-spunizcloths 
in all communities, yet, in the case of the Gadabas,*there 
is a strong superstition which prevents the use:of cloths 
prepared outside, particularly in regard Lto the cloths 
worn by their women. The legend (about Sita) is fully 
believed by the Gadabas, and hence their religious 
adherence to their particular cloth. At the time of 
marriage, it is absolute that the Gadaba maiden should 
wear this fibre-made cloth, else misfortune will ruin the 
family. A bundle of twigs is brought, and the stems 
freed of leaves are bruised and twisted to loosen the 
bark, and are then dried for two or three days, after 
which the bark is ripped out and beaten down smooth 
with heavy sticks, to separate the bark from the fibre. 
The fibre is then collected, and combed down smooth, 
and spun into a tolerably fine twist. It is this twist that 
the Gadaba maiden weaves in her crude loom, and 
prepares from it her marriage sari. According to a 
good custom among these people, a Gadaba maiden 
must learn to weave her cloths before she becomes 
eligible for marriage. And no Gadaba ever thinks of 
marrying a wife who cannot prepare her own cloths. 
Men can use cotton and other cloths, whereas women 
cannot do so, for they are under the curse of Sita. But 
the passion for fineries in woman is naturally so strong 
that the modern Gadaba woman is now taking the 
liberty of putting cotton thread for the woof and ankudu 
fibre for the warp, and thus is able to turn out a more 
comfortable and finer cloth. But some old crones 
informed me that this mixed cloth is not so auspicious 
as that prepared wholly from the fibre." 

* Madras Mail, 1907. 


Some Gadaba women wear immense earrings made 
of long pieces of brass wire wound into a circle, which 
hang down from a hole in the ear, and sometimes reach 
to the shoulders. The wire is sold in the shandy 
(market) at so much a cubit. The head-dress of some 
of the women consists of a chaplet of Oliva shells, 
and strings of beads of various sizes and colours, or 
the red and black berries of Abrus precatorius, with 
pendants which hang over the forehead. The women 
also wear bead necklaces, to which a coin may sometimes 
be seen attached as a pendant. Bracelets and rings 
are as a rule made of brass or copper, but sometimes 
silver rings are worn. Toe-rings and brass or silver 
anklets are considered fashionable ornaments. Among 
the Olaro Gadabas, the wearing of brass anklets by a 
woman indicates that she is married. For teaching 
backward children to walk, the Gadabas employ a 
bamboo stick split so as to make a fork, the prongs of 
which are connected by a cross-bar. The apparatus is 
held by the mother, and the child, clutching the cross- 
bar, toddles along. 

Among the Bodo and Olaro sections, the following 
septs occur : — Kora (sun), Nag (cobra), Bhag (tiger), 
Kira (parrot), and Gollari (monkey). The Gadabas who 
have settled in the plains seem to have forgotten the 
sept names, but will not injure or kill certain animals, 
e.g., the cobra. 

Girls are as a rule married after puberty. When a 
young man's parents think it time for him to get married, 
they repair to the home of an eligible girl with rice and 
liquor, and say that they have come to ask a boon, but 
do not mention what it is. They are treated to a meal, 
and return home. Some time afterwards, on a day fixed 
by the Disari, three or four aged relatives of the young 


man go to the girl's house, and the match is fixed up. 
After a meal, they return to their homes. On the day 
appointed for the wedding ceremonies, the bridegroom's 
relations go to the home of the bride, taking with them 
a rupee towards the marriage expenses, a new cloth for 
the girl's mother, and half a rupee for the females of the 
bride's village, which is regarded as compensation for 
the loss of the girl. To the bride are given a glass 
bead necklace, and brass bangles to be worn on the 
right wrist. A feast follows. On the following day, the 
bride is conducted to the village of the bridegroom, in 
front of whose home a pandal (booth), made of four 
bamboo poles, covered with green leaves, has been 
erected. Within the pandal, stems of the sal {Shorea 
robustd), addagirli, and bamboo joined together, are set 
up as the auspicious post. Beside this a grindstone is 
placed, on which the bride sits, with the bridegroom 
seated on her thighs. The females present throw 
turmeric powder over them, and they are bathed with 
turmeric-water kept ready in a new pot. They are then 
presented with new cloths, and their hands are joined 
together by the officiating Disari. A feast, with much 
drinking, follows, and the day's proceedings conclude 
with a dance. On the following day, mud is heaped up 
near the pandal, into which the Disari throws a handful 
of it. The remainder of the mud is carried into the 
pandal by the contracting couple, who pour water over 
it, and throw it over those who are assembled. All 
then proceed to a stream, and bathe. A further feast 
and dance follows, of which the newly married couple 
are spectators, without taking part in it. 

In a note on marriage among the Parenga Gadabas, 
Mr. G. F. Paddison writes that they have two forms of 
marriage rite, one of which (biba) is accompanied by 


much feasting, gifts of bullocks, toddy, rice, etc. The 
most interesting feature is the fight for the bride with 
fists. All the men on each side fight, and the bridegroom 
has to carry off the bride by force. Then they all sit 
down, and feast together. In the other form (lethulia), 
the couple go off together to the jungle, and, when they 
return, pay twenty rupees, or whatever they can afford, 
to the girl's father as a fine. A dinner and regular 
marriage follow elopement and payment of the fine. 

The ghorojavai system, according to which a man 
works for a stated period for his future father-in-law, is 
practiced by the Gadabas. But a cash payment is said 
to be now substituted for service. The remarriage of 
widows is permitted, and a younger brother may marry 
the widow of his elder brother. If she does not marry 
him, the second husband has to pay a sum of money, 
called in Oriya the rand tonka, to him. When a man 
divorces his wife, her relations are summoned, and he 
pays her two rupees before sending her away. Of this 
sum, one rupee is paid as buchni for suspicion regard- 
ing her chastity, and the other as chatni for driving her 
away. A divorced woman may remarry. 

In the hills, the village headman is called Janni or 
Nayako, and in the plains Naidado. He is assisted by 
a Kirasani, who is also the caste priest. 

Concerning the religion of the Gadabas, Mr. H. D. 
Taylor writes # that it is " simple, and consists of feasts 
at stated intervals. The chief festival is Ittakaparva, or 
hunting feast, in March and April. On this occasion, 
the whole male population turns out to hunt, and, if 
they return unsuccessful, the women pelt them with 
cow-dung on their return to the village ; if, however, 

* Madras Census Report, 1891. 

GAD ABA 250 

successful, they have their revenge upon the women 
in another way. The chief deities (though spoken!? of 
generally under the term Devata or Mahaprabhu) are 
Ganga Devi or Takurani, Iswara or Mouli, Bhairava, 
and Jhankara. It is Iswara or Mouli who is worshipped 
at Chaitra. Jhankara is the god of land, rainfall and 
crops, and a cow is sacrificed to him. There are not, 
as a rule, temples, but the puja (worship) place consists 
of a sacred grove surrounded with a circle of stones, 
which takes the name of Jhankara from the god to 
whom puja is performed. Ganga Devi, Iswara and 
Mouli have temples at certain places, but as a rule there 
is no building, and the site of puja is marked by trees 
and stones. To Iswara a she-buffalo is sacrificed at 
Chaitra. To the other Devatas cocks and goats are 
sacrificed. Ganga Devi or Takurani is the goddess of 
life and health, both of men and cattle ; to her pigs, 
goats, and pigeons are sacrificed. There are one or two 
curious superstitions. If a member of the caste is 
supposed to be possessed of a devil, he or she is abused 
and beaten by other members of the caste until the 
devil is cast out. In some parts the superstition is 
that a piece of wild buffalo horn buried in the ground 
of the village will avert or cure cattle disease." Some- 
times a sal or kosangi tree is planted, and surrounded 
by a bamboo hedge. It is worshipped with animal sacri- 
fices at harvest time, and the Kirasani acts as priest. 

"There is," Mr. G. F. Paddison writes, "rather a 
curious custom in connection with a village goddess. 
Close to her shrine a swing is kept. On this swing, 
once a year at the great village festival, thorns are 
placed, and the village priest or priestess sits on them 
without harm. If the pujari is a male, he has been 
made neuter. But, if the village is not fortunate enough 

25 1 GADABA 

to possess a eunuch, a woman performs the ceremony. 
[At the fire- walking ceremony at Nuvagode in Ganjam, 
the priest sits on a thorny swing, and is endowed 
with prophetic powers.] When there is small-pox or 
other epidemic disease in a village, a little go-cart is 
built, composed of a box on legs fixed to a small board 
on wheels. In this box is placed a little clay image, or 
anything else holy, and carried away to a distant place, 
and left there. A white flag is hoisted, which looks like 
quarantine, but is really intended, I think, to draw the 
goddess back to her shrine. Vaccination is regarded 
as a religious ceremony, and the Gadabas, I believe, 
invariably present the vaccinator as the officiating priest 
with rice." 

The Gadabas, like other hill tribes, name their 
children after the day of the week on which they are born. 
On the plains, however, some give their children low- 
country names, e.g., Ramudu, Lachigadu, Arjanna, etc. 

Males are, as a rule, burnt ; but, if a person dies in 
the night or on a rainy day, the corpse is sometimes 
buried. Women and children are usually buried, pre- 
sumably because they are not thought worth the fuel 
necessary for cremation. Only relations are permitted 
to touch a corpse. Death pollution is observed for three 
days, during which the caste occupation must not be 
engaged in. Stone slabs are erected to the memory 
of the dead, and sacrifices are offered to them now and 

The Gadabas have a devil dance, which they are 
willing to perform before strangers in return for a«small 
present. It has been thus described by Captain Glasfurd. * 
"At the time of the Dusserah, Holi, and other holidays, 

* Manual of the Vizagapatam district. 

GADI 252 

both men and women dance to the music of a fife and 
drum. Sometimes they form a ring by joining hands 
all round, and with a long hop spring towards the 
centre, and then hop back to the full extent of their 
arms, while they at the same time keep circling round 
and round. At other times, the women dance singly or 
in pairs, their hands resting on each other's wrists. When 
fatigued, they cease dancing, and sing. A man steps 
out of the crowd, and sings a verse or two impromptu. 
One of the women rejoins, and they sing at each other 
for a short time. The point of these songs appears to 
consist in giving the sharpest rejoinder to each other. 
The woman reflects upon the man's ungainly appearance 
and want of skill as a cultivator or huntsman, and 
the man retorts by reproaching her with her ugliness 
and slatternly habits." In connection with dancing, 
Mr. Henderson writes that "all the Gadaba dancing 
I have seen was the same as that of the Porjas, and 
consisted of a sort of women's march, at times accom- 
panied by a few men who wander round, and occasionally 
form a ring through which the line of women passes. 
Sometimes the men get on each other's shoulders, and 
so form a sort of two-storied pyramid. The women's 
song is comparatively quite melodious." 

In recent years, some Gadabas have emigrated to 
Assam, to work in the tea-gardens. But emigration has 
now stopped by edict. 

For the information contained in this article, I am 
mainly indebted to notes by Mr. C. A. Henderson, 
Mr. W. Francis, Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao, and the 
Kumara Raja of Bobbili. 

Gadi (cart). — An exogamous sept of Mala. 

Gadidhe Kandla (donkey's eyes). — An exogamous 
sept of Boya. 


Gadu.— A common suffix to the name of individuals 
among various Telugu classes, e.g., Ramigadu, Subbi- 

Gaduge (throne). — A gotra of Kurni. 

Gaita.-— A sub-division of Konda Razu. 

Gajjal (a small bell). — A sub-division of Toreya. 

Gali.—- Gali or Galollu, meaning wind, devil, or 
spirit, is recorded as an exogamous sept of Kamma, 
Kuruba, and Mala. 

Gamalla.-— The Gamallas are a class of toddy- 
drawers, and distillers and vendors of arrack in the 
Telugu country and are supposed to be Idigas who have 
bettered themselves, and separated from that caste. 
Both Gamallas and Idigas worship the deity Kattamayya. 
At the census, 1891, some returned Idiga as their sub- 
division. In the Cuddapah district some toddy-drawers 
style themselves Asilivandlu. Possibly the Idiga, 
Gamalla, and Asili toddy-drawing classes only repre- 
sent three endogamous sections of a single caste. In 
the Nellore district, the toddy-drawers style themselves 
Gamandla or Gavandlavandlu, and say that they have 
one gotra Kaumandlapu or Gaumandlapu. It is prob- 
able that the name Gamandla or Gavandla has been 
coined by Brahman purohits, to connect the caste with 
Kaumandala Maharishi of the Puranas. The Gamallas 
say that they were created to draw toddy by the sage 
Kavundinya, and that they belong to the Gaundla 
varnam (caste). I am informed that a Puranam, called 
Gamandla or Gamudi Puranam, has been created. In 
the social scale, the toddy-drawers appear to occupy a 
higher position in the Telugu than in the Tamil country, 
and they are sometimes said to be Telagas or Balijas, 
who have adopted toddy-drawing as a profession. The 
more prosperous members of the community are toddy 


and arrack (liquor) shop-keepers, and the poorer mem- 
bers extract toddy from the palm-trees. 

The Kapus of the Nellore district employ Gamallas 
as their cooks and domestic servants, and all menial 
service and cooking are done by Gamallas in the houses 
of Kapus on the occasion of festivals and marriages. 

Concerning the origin of the Gamallas, the following 
legend is current. A Rishi was doing penance by stand- 
ing on his head, and, like the chamaeleon, living on light 
and air, instead of food. According to some, the Rishi 
was Kaumandla, while others do not know his name. 
An Idiga girl passed by the Rishi, carrying a pot filled 
with toddy, which polluted the air, so that the Rishi could 
not continue the penance. Being struck with the girl's 
beauty, he followed her to her home, and pointed out to 
her that she was the cause of his mishap. He asked her 
to become his wife, but she announced that she was 
already married. Eventually, however, they became 
secretly united, and, in consequence, the whole town 
caught fire. The girl's husband, returning home with 
some toddy, was amazed at the sight, and she, to protect 
him, hid the Rishi in a vat. Into this vat the husband 
poured the toddy, which made the Rishi breathe hard, so 
that the toddy, for the first time on record, began to 
foam. Noticing this, the husband found a lingam, into 
which the Rishi had been transformed. This lingam 
was worshipped by the Gamandlas, and they are at the 
present day Saivites. 

Like other Telugu castes, the Gamallas have exo- 
gamous septs, such as parvathala (hills), kudumalu 
(a cake), annam (cooked rice), and pandhi (pig). Among 
gotras, the following may be noted : — kavundinya, 
karunya,^vachalya, and surapandesvara (sura panda, 


Marriage is, as a rule, adult, and remarriage of 
widows is permitted, though the tendency at the present 
day is to abandon the practice. At the wedding of a 
widow, the bottu (marriage badge) is tied round her 
neck at night. Prior to the marriage ceremony, the 
worship of female ancestors must be performed. A new 
female cloth, betel, and flowers, are placed on a tray, and 
worshipped by the mothers of the contracting couple. 
The cloth is given as a present to a sister or other near 
relation of the bride or bridegroom. 

The dead are cremated, and the widow breaks one 
or two of her bangles. Fire must be carried to the 
burning-ground by the father of the deceased, if he is 
alive. On the day following cremation, the hot embers 
are extinguished, and the ashes collected, and shaped 
into an effigy, near the head of which three conical masses 
of mud and ashes are set up. To these represent- 
atives of Rudra, Yama, and the spirit of the departed, 
cooked rice and vegetables are offered up on three 
leaves. One of the leaves is given to the Jangam, who 
officiates at the rite, another to a washerman, and the 
third is left, so that the food on it may be eaten by 
crows. All, who are assembled, wait till these birds 
collect, and the ashes are finally poured on a tree. On 
the ninth, tenth, or eleventh day after death, a ceremony 
called the peddadinam (big day) is performed. Cooked 
rice, curry, meat, and other things, are placed on a leaf 
inside the house. Sitting near this leaf, the widow 
weeps and breaks one or two of the glass bangles, which 
she wears on the wrist. The food is then taken to a 
stream or tank (pond), where the agnates, after shaving, 
bathing, and purification, make an effigy of the dead 
person on the~ground. Close to this cooked rice and 
vegetables arejplaced on three leaves, and offered^to the 


effigy. The widow's remaining bangles are broken, and 
she is presented with a new cloth, called munda koka 
(widow's cloth) as a sign of her condition. All Gamallas, 
rich or poor, engage on this occasion the services of 
Mala Pambalas and Bainedus (musicians and story- 
tellers) to recite the story of the goddess Ankamma. 
The performance is called Ankamma kolupu. Some of 
the Malas make on the ground a design, called muggu, 
while the others play on the drum, and carry out the 
recitation. The design must be made in five colours, 
green (leaves of Cassia auriculata), white (rice flour), 
red (turmeric and lime), yellow (turmeric), and black 
(burnt rice-husk). It represents a male and female 
figure (Virulu, heroes), who are supposed to be the 
person whose peddadinam is being celebrated, and an 
ancestor of the opposite sex. If the family can afford it, 
other designs, for example of Ankamma, are also drawn. 
On the completion of the muggu, cocoanuts, rice, and 
betel are offered, and a fowl is sacrificed. 

Like many other Telugu castes, the Gamallas have 
a class of beggars, called Eneti, attached to them, for 
whom a subscription is raised when they turn up. 

The Gamallas are mostly Saivites, and their priests 
are Aradhya Brahmans, i.e., Telugu Brahmans, who 
have adopted some of the customs of the Lingayats. 
They worship a variety of gods and goddesses, who 
include Potharaju, Katamayya, Gangamma, Mathamma, 
and Thallamma, or Thadlamma. Once or twice during 
the year, a pot of toddy is brought from every house to 
the shrine of Thallamma, and the liquor contained in 
some of the pots is poured on the floor, and the re- 
mainder given to those assembled, irrespective of caste. 

At the festival of Dipavali, the celebrants bathe in 
the early morning, and go, in wet clothes, to an ant-hill, 



before which they prostrate themselves, and pour a little 
water into one of the holes. Round the hill they wind 
five turns of cotton thread, and return home. Subse- 
quently they come once more to the ant-hill with a lamp 
made of flour paste. Carrying the light, they go thrice 
or five times round the hill, and throw into a hole 
therein split pulse (Phaseolus Mungo). During the whole 
of this day they fast. On the following morning they 
again go to the hill, pour milk into it, and snap the 
threads wound round it. 

At the festival of Sankaranthi, the principal member 
of every family observes the worship of ancestors. 
Various articles are placed in a room on leaf plates 
representing the ancestors, who are worshipped by the 
celebrant after he has been purified by bathing. Taking 
a little of the food from each leaf, he places it on a single 
leaf, which is worshipped, and placed in the court-yard, so 
that the crows may partake thereof. The remainder of 
the food is distributed among the members of the family. 

At the census, 1901, some Gamallas returned them- 
selves as Settigadu (Chetti). 

Gampa (basket). — A sub-division of Kamma and 
Telaga, and an exogamous sept of Odde. The name, 
among the Kammas, refers to a deadly struggle at 
Gandikota, in which some escaped by hiding in baskets. 
Gampa dhompti is the name of a sub-division of the 
Madigas, whose marriage offerings to the god are placed 
in a basket. 

Ganayata.— Recorded, at times of census, as a sub- 
division of Lingayat Jangams in the Nellore, Cuddapah, 
and Kurnool districts. The Sanskrit word Ganam means 
Siva's attendants. 

Gandham (sandal paste). — An exogamous sept of 
Balijas, one sub-division of whom is called Gandhavallu 


or Gandhapodi (sandal perfume sellers). The paste made 
by rubbing sandal {Santalum album) wood on a stone 
with water is widely used in connection with Hindu 
ceremonial observance. A Brahman, for example, after 
worshipping, smears his body with the paste. At 
festivals, and other ceremonial occasions, sandal paste 
is distributed to guests along with betel leaves and 
areca nuts (pan-supari). Gandhapodi also occurs as an 
exogamous sept of Boya. 

Gandikota.— A sub-division of Kamma. Gandi 
Kottei is recorded * as a sub-division of Kapu or Reddi, 
" found only in Madura and Tinnevelly, and also known 
simply as Kottei Reddis. Kottei is the Tamil for a fort, 
the corresponding Telugu word being kota. Their 
females do not appear in public." 

Gandla.— S££ Ganiga. 

Gangadikara.— Gangadikara, said doubtfully to 
mean those who lived on the banks of the Ganges, has 
been recorded as a sub-division of the Holeyas, 
Okkiliyans, and Vakkaligas. The name probably refers 
to Gangavadi, the country of the Gangas, a royal line 
which ruled over the greater part of the modern Mysore 
in former times. 

Gangeddu.— The Gangeddulu are a class of mendi- 
cants, who travel about the country exhibiting performing 
bulls. "The exhibition of sacred bulls, known as 
Gangeddulu (Ganga's bulls) is very common in the towns 
and villages of Southern India. The presence of the 
swami (god) bull, as he is popularly called, is made known 
by his keeper playing on a small drum, which emits a 
dismal, booming sound, in the intervals of addressing his 
dumb companion in a piercing voice. The bull is led 

* Madras Census Report, 1891. 


about from house to house, and made to go through 
several tricks, which he does with evident zest. The 
keeper in the meanwhile talks to him, and puts questions 
to him, to which he replies by shakes of his head. He 
will kneel down in an attitude of worship, with his head 
inclined to the ground, or he will approach you, and 
gently rub his nozzle against your hand. Usually a 
diminutive cow accompanies the bull, and, like him, is 
grandly attired, and resounds with tinkling bells. She 
is introduced to the spectators as the bull's ammagaru, 
that is consort or spouse. Then a scene between the 
pair is enacted, the gist of which is that the husband is 
displeased with the wife, and declines to hold converse 
with her. As a result of the difference, he resolves to 
go away, and stalks off in high dudgeon. The keeper 
attempts to make peace between them, and is rewarded 
by being charged by the irate husband and knocked down, 
though no harm is done to him as the animal's horns 
are padded. The keeper rises, shakes himself, and 
complains woefully of the treatment he has received. 
Indeed, it is only after a great deal of coaxing and 
wheedling, and promises of buying him endless quantities 
of rice cakes and other bazaar delicacies, that the bull 
condescends to return, and a reconciliation is effected." 
For the following note, I am indebted to Mr. C. 
Hayavadana Rao. The Gangeddulu, Erudandis, or 
Perumal Madukkarans, often acquire and train deformed 
male calves. It is a popular superstition that for a family 
to keep such animals in its possession is to court 
destruction. Consequently, when one is born, information 
is sent to a Gangeddu, who, on his arrival, is sumptuously 
fed. The calf is then washed, and a new cloth tied to 
its' horns. A small present of money is made to the 
Gangeddu, and he takes the animal away. Temples 
11-17 B 


sometimes dispose of their deformed calves in a similar 
manner. When the trained animals are exhibited in 
public, the deformity, which is the hall-mark of a 
genuine Gangeddu, is shown, usually at the commence- 
ment of the performance, or at any time at the bidding 
of any of the spectators. It is only after the exhibition 
of the deformity, which is usually concealed within the 
trappings of the animal, that remuneration, generally in 
kind, or in old rags and copper coins, is doled out to them. 
Villagers worship the bulls, when they happen to pass 
their houses, and, as soon as they enter a village, the 
females wash the feet of the animals with milk and water. 
They then adorn their foreheads with kunkumam (aniline 
powder) and turmeric paste, and burn incense and 
camphor before them. Cocoanuts, plantains, betel leaves 
and areca nuts, and money are also offered in a plate, 
and are the perquisite of the Gangeddu. The bulls are 
thus venerated, as they represent Basavanna, the sacred 
bull which is the vehicle of Siva. 

The language of the Gangeddulu is Telugu, but those 
who have migrated to the Tamil country also speak 
the language of the south. They profess the Vaishna- 
vite religion, and are of the Tengalai persuasion. They 
have Brahman gurus (religious preceptors), who reside 
at Srirangam, Tirupati, and other places. By them the 
Gangeddulu are branded on the shoulder with the 
emblems of the chank and chakram, and initiated into 
the mysteries of the Dasari priesthood. But, though 
they call themselves Dasaris, the Gangeddulu have no 
marital or other connection with the Dasaris. In addi- 
tion to training and exhibiting the performing bulls 
and cultivating land, the Gangeddulu officiate as Dasaris 
in the month of Peratasi (September-October). Their 
principal insignia of office are the chank shell, which is 


blown to announce their arrival, and the iron lamp 
(called Garudasthambha), which is kept burning, and is 
said to represent Venkatesa, the presiding deity at 
Tirupati. As Dasaris, little is expected of them, except 
offering fruits to the god, and assisting at funerals. 
Several proverbs, of which the following are examples, 
are current concerning this aspect of their life : — 

The mistake of a Dasari is excused with an apology. 
The songs of a Dasari are known only to the god, 
i.e., they are unintelligible and unreal. 

For the song of a Dasari alms are the payment, i.e., 
that is all the song is worth. 

Sing again what you have sung, oh! Dasari with 
dirty teeth. 

When a beggar was asked whether he was a 
Dasari or a Jangam, he replied that it depends on 
the next village. This in reference to his being a 

A Gangeddu mendicant is, like his bulls, picturesquely 
attired. He is very punctilious about having his sect- 
mark on the forehead, invariably wears a turban, and his 
body is clothed in a long white cloth robe. When going 
about with the performing bulls, the Gangeddulu 
generally travel in pairs, one carrying a drum, and the 
other a bell-metal gong. One of them holds in one 
hand the nose-rope of the bull, and in the other the 
whip. The bulls are dressed up in a patch work quilt 
with two eye-holes in it. Of names which are given to 
the animals, Rama and Lakshmana are very popular. 
The tameness of the bulls is referred to in the proverb 
" As mild as a Gangeddu." 

The Perumal Madukkarans, or Perumal Erudukka- 
rans, both of which names indicate those who lead bulls 
about, are found chiefly in the Chingleput, North and 


South Arcot districts. " Every now and then," Mr. 
S. M. Natesa'Sastri writes,* "throughout Madras, a man 
dressed up as a buffoon is to be seen leading about a bull, 
as fantastically got up as himself with cowries (Cyprcea 
arabica shells) and rags of many colours, from door to 
door. The bull is called in Tamil Perumal erudu, and 
in Telugu Ganga eddu, the former meaning Vishnu's 
bull and the latter Ganga's bull. The origin of the first 
is given in a legend, but that of the last is not clear. 
The conductors of these bulls are neatherds of high 
caste, called Pu Idaiyan, i.e., flower neatherds {see Idai- 
yan), and come from villages in the North and South 
Arcot districts. They are a simple and ignorant set, 
who firmly believe that their occupation arises out of 
a command from the great god Venkatachalapati, the 
lord of the Venkatachala near Tirupaddi (Tirupati) in the 
North Arcot district. Their legend is as follows. Among 
the habitual gifts to the Venkatachala temple at Tirup- 
padi were all the freaks of nature of the neighbourhood 
as exhibited in cattle, such as two-tailed cows, five- 
legged bulls, four-horned calves, and so on. The Pu 
Idaiyans, whose original duty was to string flowers for 
the temple, were set to graze these abortions. Now 
to graze cows is an honour, but to tend such creatures 
as these the Pu Idaiyans regarded as a sin. So they 
prayed to Venkatachalapati to show them how they 
could purge it away. On this, the god gave them a bull 
called after himself the Perumal bull and said : ' My sons, 
if you take as much care of this bull as you would of 
your own children, and lead it from house to house, 
begging its food, your sin will be washed away.' Ever 
since then they have been purging themselves of their 

* Ind. Ant. XVIII, 1889. 


original sin. The process is this. The bull leader takes 
it from house to house, and puts it questions, and the 
animal shakes its head in reply. This is proof positive 
that it can reason. The fact is the animal is bought 
when young for a small sum, and brought up to its 
profession. Long practice has made its purchasers 
experts in selecting the animals that will suit them. 
After purchase the training commences, which consists 
in pinching the animal's ears whenever it is given bran, 
and it soon learns to shake its head at the sight of bran. 
I need hardly say that a handful of bran is ready in its 
conductor's hands when the questions are put to it. It 
is also taught to butt at any person that speaks angrily 
to it. As regards the offerings made to these people, 
one-sixth goes to feeding the bulls, and the remaining 
five-sixths to the conductors. They look upon it as 
' good work ', but the village boys and girls think it the 
greatest fun in the world to watch its performances, and 
the advent of a Vishnu's bull is hailed by the youngsters 
with the greatest delight." 

Gangimakkalu.— Gangimakkalu, or Gangaputra, 
meaning children or sons of Ganga, the goddess of water, 
is the name of a sub-division of Kabbera. The allied 
Gangavamsamu, or people of Ganga, is a name for Jalaris. 
Ganiga or Gandla.— The name Ganiga is derived 
from the Telugu ganuga, meaning an oil-mill. The 
Ganigas are said * to be " the oil pressers of the Canarese 
people, corresponding to the Telugu Gandla and the 
Tamil Vaniyan. This caste is sub-divided into three 
sections, none of whom eat together or intermarry. 
These sections are the Hegganigas, who yoke two oxen 
to a stone oil-mill ; Kirganigas, who make oil in wooden 

Manual of the South Canara district. 


mills ; and Ontiyeddu Ganigas, who yoke only_£one 
animal to the mill. They are collectively known as 
Jotipans or Jotinagarams (people of the city of light). 
In addition to pressing oil, they also make palm-leaf 
umbrellas, cultivate land, and work as labourers. They 
employ Brahmans to perform their ceremonies. Their 
guru is the head of the Vyasaraya mutt at Anegundi. 
Early marriage is practiced. Widow remarriage is not 
allowed. They eat fish, mutton, and fowls, but do not 
drink liquor. Chetti is their title." In the Madras 
Census Report, 1891, it is stated that the guru of the 
Ganigas is the head of the mutt at Sringeri, and that 
they employ Havig Brahmans for their ceremonies. 
Sringeri is the name of a Smarta (Saivite) mutt or 
religious institution at several places, such as Tanjore 
and Kumbakonam ; and there is a town of this name in 
Mysore, from which the mutt derives its name. 

Concerning the Ganigas of the Mysore Province, 
Mr. V. N. Narasimmiyengar writes as follows.* "The 
account locally obtained connects this caste with the 
Nagartas, as forming the leading communities of the 
left-hand faction, in opposition to the Lingayats and 
other castes composing the right-hand faction. Caste 
supremacy is ever associated in India with preternatural 
mythology. If the average Brahman traces his nobility 
literally to the face of Brahma, according to the Vedic 
Purusha Sukta, every other castelet claims a patent of 
superiority in a similar miraculous origin. The Ganigas 
allege that they immigrated from the north at a time 
beyond living memory. A Mysore noble, named Malla- 
raje Ars, established and first peopled the pete (market 
town) of Bangalore, when the Ganigas first came there, 

* Mysore Census Report, 1891. 


followed by the Nagartas, who are said to have been co- 
emigrants with the Ganigas. Mallaraj made Sattis and 
Yajamans (headmen) of the principal members of the two 
castes, and exempted them from the house-tax. The 
Ganigas are both Vaishnavites and Saivites. Their 
guru is known as Dharmasivacharsvami in the Madras 
Presidency, and certain gotras (family names) are said 
to be common to the Ganigas and Nagartas, but they 
never eat together or intermarry. The Ganigas claim 
the peculiar privilege of following the Vishnu image or 
car processions, throughout the province, with flags 
exhibiting the figures of Hanuman and Garuda, and 
torches. These insignia are alleged to have been abo- 
riginally given to an ancestor, named Siriyala Satti, by 
Rama, as a reward for a valuable gem presented by him. 
The Ganigas call themselves Dharmasivachar Vaisyas 
like the Nagartas, and the feud between them used 
often to culminate in much bitter unpleasantness. The 
order includes a small division of the linga-wearing 
oilmongers, known as Sajjana (good men), whose popu- 
lation is a small fraction of the community. The 
Sajjanas, however, hold no social intercourse of any kind 
with the other sub-divisions." 

The Ganigas of Sandur, in the little Maratha State 
of that name, returned Yenne (oil) and Kallu (stone) as 
sub-divisions. The average cephalic index of these 
Ganigas was very high, being 8o - 5 as against 77*6 for 
the Ganigas of Mysore city. 

"The oil-mill of the Ganigas is," Mr. W. Francis 
writes,* " a sort of large wooden mortar, usually formed 
out of the heart of a tamarind tree, and firmly imbedded 
in the ground. A wooden cylinder, shod with iron, fits 

* Gazetteer of the Bellary district. 


roughly into the cavity. A cross beam is lashed to this 
in such a way that one end is close to the ground, and 
to this a pair of bullocks or buffaloes are fastened. By 
an arrangement of pullies, the pressure of the cylinder 
can be increased at pleasure. As the bullocks go round 
the trough, the seeds are crushed by the action of the 
cylinder, so that the expressed oil falls to the bottom, 
while the residuum, as oil-cake, adheres to the side of the 

The following note refers to the Onteddu (single 
bullock) Ganigas, who claim superiority over those who 
employ two bullocks in working their oil-mills. The 
former belong to the right-hand, and the latter to the 
left-hand faction. Among them are various sub-divi- 
sions, of which the Deva and Onteddu may intermarry, 
while the Kasi, Teli (gingelly : Sesamum), and Chan- 
danapu are endogamous. Like other Telugu castes 
they have gotras, some of which are interesting, as there 
are certain prohibitions connected with them. For 
example, members of the Badranollu and Balanollu 
gotras may not cut the tree Erythroxylon monogynum. 
In like manner, members of the Viranollu and Viththa- 
nollu gotras are forbidden to cut Feronia elephantum t 
and those of the Vedanollu gotra to cut Nyctanthes 
arbor-tristis. Members of certain other gotras do not 
cultivate turmeric, sugarcane, or the millet (Panicum 

The Onteddu Ganigas are Saivites, and disciples of 
Lingayat Brahmans (Aradhyas). Some, however, wear 
the sacred thread, and others bear on the forehead the 
red streak of the Vaishnavites. In some places, their 
special deity is Chaudeswara, who is the god of some of 
the weaving classes. In the Kistna district they claim 
Mallikarjunasvami as their deity. 




Their primary occupation is oil-pressing, but some 
are traders in cotton, oil-seeds, etc., or cultivators. In 
some localities, the animal which works the oil-mill is 
not blindfolded, while it is in others, because, it is said, 
it would otherwise fall down after a few revolutions. 
Crushing gingelly oil is, according to the Shastras, a 
sinful act, but condoned inasmuch as Devatas use this 
oil for lamps, and men in temples. For the removal of 
the oil-cake, or turning the seeds in the mill, the left 
hand only is used. Burning the tongue with a piece of 
gold, as a means of purification after some offence has 
been committed, is a common practice. 

The marriage rites conform, for the most part, to the 
Telugu type. But, while the wrist thread is being tied 
on, common salt is held in the hand. A dagger (baku) 
is then given to the bridegroom, who keeps it with him 
till the conclusion of the ceremonies. On the wedding 
day, the bridegroom wears the sacred thread. The tali 
is not an ordinary bottu, but a thread composed of 10 1 
thin strings, which is removed on the last day, and 
replaced by a bottu. On the third day, the bride and 
bridegroom worship a jammi tree (Prosopis spicigera), 
and the latter, removing his sacred thread, throws it on 
the tree. Five young men, called Bala Dasulu, also 
worship the tree, and, if they are wearing the sacred 
thread, throw it thereon. The dead are as a rule buried, 
in a sitting posture if the deceased was an orthodox 
Saivite. If a young man dies a bachelor, the corpse is 
married to an arka plant (Calotropis giganted), and 
decorated with a wreath made of the flowers thereof. 
The final death ceremonies are performed on the eleventh 
day. Food is offered to crows and the soul of the dead 
person, who is represented by a wooden post dressed 
with his clothes. The bangles of a widow are broken 

GANTA 268 

near the post, which is finally thrown into a tank or 

Ganiga further occurs as an occupational name for 
Lingayat oil-vendors, and for Mogers who are employed 
as oil-pressers. 

Ganta.— Ganta or Gantla, meaning a bell, has been 
recorded as an exogamous sept of Kamma and Balija. 
Gantelavaru, or men of the bell, is given by Mr. S. M. 
Natesa Sastri * as the family name of one section of the 
Donga (thieving) Dasaris, and of the Kabberas, who 
are said to join the ranks of this criminal class. Gantu- 
gazula occurs, in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, as a 
sub-division of Koracha. In the Vizagapatam Manual, 
the Tiragati Gantlavallu are described as repairing 
hand-mills, catching antelopes, and selling their skins. 

Ganti (a hole pierced in the ear-lobe). — An 
exogamous sept of Gudala. 

Garadi.— -Garadi or Garadiga is the name of a class 
of mendicants in the Telugu country and Mysore who 
are snake-charmers, practice sleight of hand, and per- 
form various juggling and mountebank tricks. 

Garappa (dry land). — A synonym of Challa Yanadi. 

Gatti.— A small caste of cultivators, found chiefly 
near Kumbla and Someswara in the Kasaragod taluk of 
South Canara. Other names for the caste are Poladava 
and Holadava, both signifying men of the field. Like 
the Bants, they follow the aliya santana law of inheri- 
tance (in the female line), have exogamous septs or 
balis, and, on the day of the final death ceremonies, 
construct car-like structures, if the deceased was an 
important personage in the community. The Bants 
and Gattis interdine, but do not intermarry. The 

* Calcutta Review, 1905. 

269 GAUDA 

headman of the Gattis is called Gurikara. The God of 
the Someswara temple is regarded as the caste deity, 
and every family has to pay an annual fee of four annas 
to this temple. Failure to do so would entail 

Gattu (bank or mound). — An exogamous sept of 

Gaud.— A title of Sadar. 

Gauda.— -The Gaudas or Gaudos are a large caste of 
Canarese cultivators and cattle-breeders. " Gauda and 
Gaudo," Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,* "are really two 
distinct castes, the former being Canarese and the latter 
Uriya. Each name is, however, spelt both ways. The 
two names are, I presume, etymologically the same. 
The ordinary derivation is from the Sanskrit go, a cow, 
but Dr. Gustav Oppert contends f that the root of Gauda 
is a Dravidian word meaning a mountain. Among the 
Canarese, and to a less extent among the Uriyas also, 
the word is used in an honorific sense, a custom which 
is difficult to account for if Dr. Oppert's philology is 
correct." " Gaudas," Mr. Stuart writes further,;}: " also 
called Halvaklumakkalu (children of the milk class), are 
very numerously represented in the South Canara district. 
They have a somewhat elaborate system of caste govern- 
ment. In every village there are two headmen, the 
Grama Gauda and the Vattu or Gattu Gauda. For 
every group of eight or nine villages there is another 
head called the Magane Gauda, and for every nine 
Maganes there is a yet higher authority called the 
Kattemaneyava. The caste is divided into eighteen baris 
or balis, which are of the usual exogamous character. 

* Madras Census Report, 1891 

t Original Inhabitants of Bharatavarsha. 

% Manual of the South Canara district. 

GAUD A 270 

The names of some of these are as follows : Bangara 
(gold), Nandara, Malara (a bundle of glass bangles, as 
carried about for sale), Salu, Hemmana (pride or conceit), 
Kabru, Goli {Portulaca oleracea, a pot-herb), Basruvo- 
garu (basru, belly), Balasanna, and Karmannaya. 
Marriage is usually adult, and sexual license before 
marriage with a member of the caste is tolerated, though 
nominally condemned. The dhare form of marriage (see 
Bant) is used, but the bridal pair hold in their joined 
hands five betel leaves, one areca nut and four annas, 
and, after the water has been poured, the bridegroom 
ties a tali to the neck of the bride. Divorce is permitted 
freely, and divorced wives and widows can marry again. 
A widow with children, however, should marry only her 
late husband's elder brother. If she marries any one 
else, the members of her former husband's family will not 
even drink water that has been touched by her. They 
burn their dead. On the third day, the ashes are made 
into the form of a man, which is cut in two, buried, and 
a mound made over it. In the house two planks are 
placed on the ground, and covered with a cloth. On one 
of these, a vessel containing milk is placed, and on the 
other a lamp, rice, cocoanut, pumpkin, etc., are deposited. 
The agnates and some boys go round the plank three 
times, and afterwards go to the mound, taking with them 
the various articles in a cloth. Three plantain leaves 
are spread in front of the mound, and cooked food, etc., 
placed thereon. Four posts are set up round the mound, 
and cloths stretched over them, and placed round the 
sides. On the sixteenth day, sixteen plantain leaves are 
placed in a row, and one leaf is laid apart. Cakes, cooked 
fowl's flesh, toddy and arrack (liquor) are placed on the 
leaves in small leaf-cups. The assembled agnates then 
say " We have done everything as we should do, and so 

271 GAUDA 

our ancestors who have died must take the man who is 
now dead to their regions. I put the leaf which is apart 
in the same row with the sixteen leaves." 

" Once a year, in the month of Mituna (June-July), the 
Gaudas perform a ceremony for the propitiation of all 
deceased ancestors. They have a special preference for 
Venkataramaswami, to whom they make money offerings 
once a year in September. They employ Brahmins to 
give them sacred water when they are under pollution, 
but they do not seek their services for ordinary cere- 
monies. They are, for the most part, farmers, but some 
few are labourers. The latter receive three or four seers 
of paddy a day as wages. Their house language is Tulu 
in some places, and Canarese in others, but all follow the 
ordinary system of inheritance, and not the custom of 
descent through females. Their title is Gauda." 

As bearing on the superstitious beliefs of the people 
of South Canara, the following case, which was tried 
before the Sessions Judge in 1908, may be cited. A 
young Gauda girl became pregnant by her brother-in- 
law. After three days' labour, the child was born. The 
accused, who was the mother of the girl, was the midwife. 
Finding the delivery very difficult, she sent for a person 
named Korapulu to come and help her. The child was, 
as they thought, still-born. On its head was a red 
protuberance like a ball ; round each of its forearms were 
two or three red bands ; the eyes and ears were fixed 
very high in the head ; and the eyes, nose, and mouth 
were abnormally large. Korapulu and the girl's younger 
sister at once carried the mother out of the out-house 
lest the devil child should do her harm or kill her. The 
accused called for a man named Isuf Saiba, who was 
standing in the yard outside. He came in, and she 
asked him to call some of the neighbours, to decide 


what to do. The child, she said, was a devil child, and 
must be cut and killed, lest it should devour its mother. 
While they were looking at the child, it began to move 
and roll its eyes about, and turn on the ground. It is a 
belief of the villagers that such a devil child, when born 
and brought in contact with the air, rapidly grows, and 
causes great trouble, usually killing the mother, and 
sometimes killing all the inmates of the house. The 
accused told Isuf Saiba to cover the child with a vessel, 
which he did. Then there was a sound from inside the 
vessel, either of the child moving or making some sound 
with its mouth. The accused then put her hand under 
the vessel, dragged the child halfway out, and then, while 
Isuf Saiba pressed the edge of the earthenware vessel 
on the abdomen of the child, the accused took a knife, 
and cut the body in half. When the body was cut in two, 
there was no blood, but a mossy green liquid, or a black 
liquid, oozed out. The accused got two areca leaves, and 
put one piece of the child on one, and one on the other, 
and told Isuf Saiba to get a spade, and come and bury 
them. So they went out into the jungle close to the 
house, and Isuf Saiba dug two holes about half a yard 
deep, one on one hillock, and one on another. In these 
two holes the two pieces of the child were separately 
buried. The object of this was to prevent the two pieces 
joining together again, in which case the united devil child 
would have come out of the grave, and gone to kill its 
mother. The birth and death of this devil child were 
not kept secret, but were known throughout the village. 

Gauda or Gaudu further occurs as a title of Idiga, 
Kuruba, and Vakkaliga, an exogamous sept and gotra of 
Kuruba and Kurni, and a sub-division of Golla. 

Gaudi. — It is recorded, in the Mysore Census 
Report, 1 90 1, that a Maleru (temple servant) woman, 

2 73 GAUDO 

who cohabits with one of a lower class than her own, is 
degraded into a Gaudi. 

Gaudo.— The Gaudos are described, in the Madras 
Census Reports, 1891 and 1901, as "the great pastoral 
caste of the Ganjam Oriyas. Like those of all the 
cowherd classes, its members say that they are descended 
from the Yadava tribe, in which Krishna was born (cf. 
Idaiyan). The majority of the Gaudos in the northern 
districts are now cultivators, but there is evidence that 
the keeping and breeding of cattle is their traditional 
occupation. The most important sub-division is Sollo- 
khondia ; many of them are herdsmen and milk-sellers. 
Fourteen sub-divisions have been reported. They are 
Apoto, Behara, Bolodiya, Dongayato, Dumalo, Gopopu- 
riya, Kolata, Komiriya, Kusilya, Ladia, Madhurapurya, 
Mogotho, Pattilia, and Sollokhondia." In the Census 
Report, 1871, it is noted that "there are many Gowdus 
of high social standing, who have gotten unto themselves 
much wealth in cattle. These men own, in many 
instances, large herds of buffaloes, which, being reared 
in the boundless pastures of the hills, are much prized 
by the cartmen of the low country for draught purposes." 

Of the sub-division noted above, Behara is apparently 
a title only. Bolodiya is the name of a section of the 
Tellis, who use pack-bullocks (bolodi, a bull) for 
carrying grain about the country. Pattilia must be a 
mistake for Pachilia. The sections among the Gaudos 
which are recognised by all castes in the Ganjam district 
are Sollokhondia, Bhatta, Gopopuriya, Madhurapuriya, 
Mogotho, Apoto, and Pachilia. These, with the excep- 
tion of Gopopuriya and Madhurapuriya, seem to be 
endogamous sub-divisions. The Bhatta Gaudos go by 
the name of Gopopuriya in some places and Madhura- 
puriya in others, both these names being connected^with 

GAUDO 274 

the legendary history of the origin of the caste. The 
Apoto and Bhatta Gaudos are sometimes employed as 
palanquin-bearers. The Mogotho Gaudos, who live on 
the hills, are regarded as an inferior section, because 
they do not abstain from eating fowls. The Sollokhondia 
section is regarded as superior, and consequently all 
Oriya castes, Brahman and non- Brahman, will accept 
water at the hands of members thereof. An orthodox 
Oriya non- Brahman, and all Oriya Brahmans, will not 
receive water from Telugu or Tamil Brahmans, whom 
they call Komma Brahmans, Komma being a corrupt 
form of karma, i.e., Brahmans who are strict in the 
observance of the various karmas (ceremonial rites). 

The Sollokhondia Gaudos are agriculturists, rear 
cattle and sheep, and sometimes earn a living by driving 
carts. They have gotras, among which the most 
common are Moiro (peacock), Nagasiro (cobra), and 
Kochimo (tortoise). Their caste council is presided 
over by a hereditary headman called Mahankudo, who 
is assisted by a Bhollobaya, Desiya, and Khorsodha or 
Dhondia. The Khorsodha is the caste servant, and the 
Desiya eats with a delinquent who is received back into 
the fold after he has been tried by the council. The 
Sollokhondias are for the most part Paramarthos, i.e., 
followers of the Chaitanya form of Vaishnavism. They 
show a partiality for the worship of Jagannathaswami, and 
various Takuranis (village deities) are also reverenced. 
Bairagis are the caste priests. 

The marriage prohibitions among the Sollokhondias 
are those which hold good among many Oriya castes, 
but marriage with the maternal uncle's daughter (mena- 
rikam) is sometimes practiced. On the evening preced- 
ing the marriage day (bibha), after a feast, the bride 
and bridegroom's parties go to a temple, taking with 

2 75 GAUDO 

them all the articles which are to be used in connec- 
tion with the marriage ceremonial. On their way back, 
seven married girls, carrying seven vessels, go to 
seven houses, and beg water, which is used by the 
bridal couple for their baths on the following day. 
Either on the day before the wedding day, or on the 
bibha day, the bridegroom is shaved, and the bride's 
nails are pared. Sometimes a little of the hair of her 
forehead is also cut off. The marriage rites do not 
materially differ from those of the Bhondaris (q.v.). 

The dead, excepting young children, are burnt. The 
eldest son carries a pot of fire to the burning ground. 
On the day following cremation, the mourners revisit 
the spot, and, after the fire has been extinguished, make 
an image of a man with the ashes on the spot where the 
corpse was burnt. To this image food is offered. 
Seven small flags, made of cloths dyed with turmeric, 
are stuck into the shoulders, abdomen, legs, and head 
of the image. A fragment of calcined bone is carried 
away, put into a lump of cow-dung, and kept near the 
house of the deceased, or near a tank (pond). On the 
ninth day after death, towards evening, a bamboo, split 
or spliced into four at one end, is set up in the ground 
outside the house beneath the projecting roof, and on it 
a pot filled with water is placed. On the spot where 
the deceased breathed his last, a lamp is kept. A hole 
is made in the bottom of the pot, and, after food has 
been offered to the dead man, the pot is thrown into a 
tank. On the tenth day, a ceremony is performed on a 
tank bund (embankment). The piece of bone, which 
has been preserved, is removed from its cow-dung case, 
and food, fruits, etc., are offered to it, and thrown into 
the tank. The bone is taken home, and buried near the 
house, food being offered to it until the twelfth day. On 


the eleventh day, all the agnates bathe, and are touched 
with ghl (clarified butter) as a sign of purification. 
Sradh (memorial service) is performed once a year on 
Sankaranthi (Pongal) day. Food, in the form of balls, 
is placed on leaves in the backyard, and offered to the 
ancestors. Some food is also thrown up into the air. 

All sections of the Gaudos have adopted infant 
marriage. If a girl fails to secure a husband before she 
attains puberty, she has to go through a form of marri- 
age called dharma bibha, in which the bridegroom is, 
among the Sollokhondias, represented by an old man, 
preferably the girl's grandfather, and among the other 
sections by a sahada or shadi tree (Streblus asper) or an 
arrow (khando). 

Like various other Oriya castes, the Gaudos worship 
the goddess Lakshmi on Thursdays in the month of 
November, which are called Lakshmi varam, or Laksh- 
mi's day. The goddess is represented by a basket 
filled with grain, whereon some place a hair ball, which 
has been vomited by a cow. The ball is called gaya 
panghula, and is usually one or two inches in diameter. 
The owner of a cow which has vomited such a ball 
regards it as a propitious augury for the prosperity 
of his family. A feast is held on the day on which the 
ball is vomited, and, after the ball has been worshipped, 
it is carefully wrapped up, and kept in a box, in which 
it remains till it is required for further worship. Some 
people believe that the ball continues to grow year by 
year, and regard this as a very good sign. Bulls are 
said not to vomit the balls, and only very few cows 
do so. 

Gauliar.— A synonym for Lingayat Gollas, or Kan- 

Gaundala.— A synonym of Gamalla. 


Gauri.—- A division of Okkiliyan, named after Gauri, 
Siva's consort. The equivalent Gaura occurs among 
the Komatis, and Gauriga among the Medaras. One 
division of the Kabberas is called Gaurimakkalu, or 
sons of Gauri. 

Gautama.— A Brahmanical gotra adopted by 
Bhatrazus, Khatris, and Kondaiyamkottai Maravans. 
Gautama was a sage, and the husband of Ahalya, who 
was seduced by Indra. 

Gavala (cowry shell : Cyprcea arabicd).— An exoga- 
mous sept of Madiga. A cotton thread string, with 
cowries strung on it, is one of the insignia of a Madiga 

Gavalla.— A synonym for Gamalla. 

Gavara.— It is noted, in the Madras Census Report, 
1891, that "this caste is practically confined to the 
Vizagapatam district, and they have been classed as 
cultivators on the strength of a statement to that effect 
in the District Manual. Gavara is, however, an impor- 
tant sub-division of Komatis (traders), and these Gavaras 
are probably in reality Gavara Komatis. These are so 
called after Gauri, the patron deity of this caste." 

For the following note I am indebted to Mr. C. 
Hayavadana Rao. A tradition is current that the 
Gavaras originally lived at Vengi, the ancient capital 
of the Eastern Chalukyan kings, the ruins of which are 
near Ellore in the Godavari district. The king was 
desirous of seeing one of their women, who was gosha 
(in seclusion), but to this they would not consent. 
Under orders from the king, their houses were set on 
fire. Some of them bolted themselves in, and perished 
bravely, while others locked up their women in big 
boxes, and escaped with them to the coast. They 
immediately set sail, and landed at Pudimadaka in the 


Anakapalli taluk. Thence they marched as far as 
Kondakirla, near which they founded the village of 
Wadapalli or Wodapalli, meaning the village of the 
people who came in boats. They then built another 
village called Gavarla Anakapalli. They received an 
invitation from king Payaka Rao, the founder of Anaka- 
palli, and, moving northwards, established themselves 
at what is now known as Gavarapeta in the town of 
Anakapalli. They began the foundation of the village 
auspiciously by consecrating and planting the sandra 
karra {Acacia sundra), which is not affected by ' white- 
ants,' instead of the pala karra {Mimusops kexandra), 
which is generally used for this purpose. Consequently, 
Anakapalli has always flourished. 

The Gavaras speak Telugu, and, like other Telugu 
castes, have various exogamous septs or intiperulu. 

Girls are married either before or after puberty. The 
custom of menarikam, by which a man marries his 
maternal uncle's daughter, is in force, and it is said that 
he may also marry his sister's daughter. The re- 
marriage of widows is permitted, and a woman who has 
had seven husbands is known as Beththamma, and is 
much respected. 

Some Gavaras are Vaishnavites, and others Saivites, 
but difference in religion is no bar to intermarriage. 
Both sections worship the village deities, to whom 
animal sacrifices are offered. The Vaishnavites show 
special reverence to Jagganathaswami of Orissa, whose 
shrine is visited by some, while others take vows in the 
name of this god. On the day on which the car festival 
is celebrated at Puri, local car festivals are held in 
Gavara villages, and women carry out the performance 
of their vows. A woman, for example, who is under a 
vow, in order that she may be cured of illness or bear 


children, takes a big pot of water, and, placing it on 
her head, dances frantically before the god, through 
whose influence the water, which rises out of the pot, 
falls back into it, instead of being spilt. 

The Vaishnavites are burnt, and the Saivites buried 
in a sitting posture. The usual chinna (little) and 
pedda rozu (big day) death ceremonies are performed. 

Men wear a gold bangle on the left wrist, and 
another on the right arm. Women wear a silver bangle 
on the right wrist, and a bracelet of real or imitation 
coral, which is first worn at the time of marriage, on 
the left wrist. They throw the end of their body-cloth 
over the left shoulder. They do not, like women of 
other non- Brahman castes in the Vizagapatam district, 
smoke cigars. 

The original occupation of the caste is said to have 
been trading, and this may account for the number of 
exogamous septs which are named after Settis (traders). 
At the present day, the Gavaras are agriculturists, and 
they have the reputation of being very hard-working, 
and among the best agriculturists in the Vizagapatam 
district. The women travel long distances in order to 
sell vegetables, milk, curds, and other produce. 

The caste titles are Anna, Ayya, and occasionally 

Gaya (cow). — An exogamous sept of Kondra. 

Gayinta.— Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 
1 90 1, as a small caste of hill cultivators, speaking Oriya 
and Telugu. The name is said to be derived from gayinti, 
an iron digging implement. Gayinta is reported to be 
the same as Gaintia, a name of Enetis or Entamaras. 

Gazula.— Gazula or Gazul (glass bangle) has been 
recorded as a sub-division of Balija, Kapu, and Toreya. 
The Gazula Balijas make glass bangles. The Toreyas 


have a tradition that they originated from the bangles 
of Machyagandhi, the daughter of a fisherman on 
the Jumna, who was married to king Shantanu of 

Gedala (buffaloes). — A sept of Bonthuk Savara. 

Geddam (beard). — An exogamous sept of Boya and 
Padma Sale. 

Gejjala (bells tied to the legs while dancing). — An 
exogamous sept of Balija and Korava. 

Gejjegara.— A sub-caste of the Canarese Panchalas. 
They are described, in the Mysore Census Report, 1891, 
as makers of small round bells (gungru), which are used 
for decorating the head or neck of bullocks, and tied by 
dancing-girls round their ankles when dancing. 

Genneru (sweet-scented oleander). — An exogamous 
sept of Boya. 

Gentoo.— Gentoo or Jentu, as returned at times of 
census, is stated to be a general term applied to Balijas 
and Telugu speaking Sudras generally. The word is 
said by Yule and Burnell * to be " a corruption of the 
Portuguese Gentio, a gentile or heathen, which they 
applied to the Hindus in contradistinction to the Moros 
or Moors, i.e., Mahomedans. The reason why the term 
became specifically applied to the Telugu people is 
probably because, when the Portuguese arrived, the 
Telugu monarchy of Vijayanagar was dominant over a 
great part of the peninsula." In a letter written from 
prison to Sir Philip Francis, Rajah Nuncomar referred 
to the fact that " among the English gentry, Armenians, 
Moores and Gentoos, few there is who is not against 
me." Gentoo still survives as a caste name in the 
Madras Quarterly Civil List (1906). 

* Hobson-Jobson. 


Ghair-i-Mahdi. — The name, meaning without 
Mahdi, of a sect of Muhammadans, who affirm that the 
Imam Mahdi has come and gone, while orthodox Muham- 
madans hold that he is yet to come. 

Ghasi.— See Haddi. 

Ghontoro.— A small caste of Oriyas, who manufac- 
ture brass and bell-metal rings and bangles for the hill 
people. The name is derived from ghonto, a bell-metal 

Gidda (vulture). — A sept of Poroja. 

Gikkili (rattle). — A gotra of Kurni. 

Giri Razu. — A contraction of Puragiri Razu or 
Puragiri Kshatriya, by which names some Perikes style 

Goa.— A sub-division of Kudubis, who are said to 
have emigrated from Goa to South Canara. 

Go Brahman.— A name given to Brahmans by 
Kammalans, who style themselves Visva Brahmans. 

Godagula.— The Godagulas are recorded, in the 
Madras Census Report, 1901, as being the same as the 
Gudalas, who are a Telugu caste of basket-makers. 
According to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao, to whom I am 
indebted for the following note, they are a distinct caste, 
speaking Oriya, and sometimes calling themselves Odde 
(Oriya) Medara. Like the Medaras, they work in split 
bamboo, and make sundry articles which are not made 
by other castes who work in this medium. Unlike the 
Gudalas, they are a polluting class, and have the follow- 
ing legend to account for their social degradation. God 
told them to make winnows and other articles for divine 
worship. This, they did, and, after they had delivered 
them, they attended a marriage feast, at which they eat 
flesh and drank liquor. On their return, God called on 
them to vomit the food which they had partaken of, and 


they accordingly brought up the meat and drink, whereon 
God cursed them, saying " Begone, you have eaten for- 
bidden food." They craved for forgiveness, but were 
told in future to earn their living as bamboo-workers. 
The custom of menarikam, according to which a man 
should marry his maternal uncle's daughter, is so rigidly 
enforced that, if the uncle refuses to give his daughter 
in marriage, the man has a right to carry her off, and 
then pay a fine, the amount of which is fixed by the 
caste council. A portion thereof is given to the girl's 
parents, and the remainder spent on a caste feast. If 
the maternal uncle has no daughter, a man may, 
according to the eduru (or reversed) menarikam custom, 
marry his paternal aunt's daughter. Six months before 
the marriage ceremony takes place, the pasupu 
(turmeric) ceremony is performed. The bridegroom's 
family pay six rupees to the bride's family, to provide 
the girl with turmeric, wherewith she adorns herself. 
On the day fixed for the wedding, the parents of the 
bridegroom go with a few of the elders to the bride's 
house, and couple the request to take away the girl with 
payment of nine rupees and a new cloth. Of the money 
thus given, eight rupees go to the bride's parents, and 
the remainder to the caste. The bride is conducted 
to the home of the bridegroom, who meets her at the 
pandal (booth) erected in front of his house. They are 
bathed with turmeric water, and sacred threads are put 
on their shoulders by the Kula Maistri who officiates 
as priest. The couple then play with seven cowry 
(Cyprcea arabica) shells, and, if the shells fall with the 
slit downwards, the bride is said to have won ; other- 
wise the bridegroom is the winner. This is followed by 
the mudu akula homam, or sacrifice of three leaves. A 
new pot, containing a lighted wick, is placed before the 


couple. On it are thrown leaves of the rayi aku (Ficus 
religiosa), marri aku {Ficus Bengalensis), and juvvi aku 
{Ficus Tsiela). The Kula Maistri of the bridegroom's 
party spreads out his right hand over the mouth of the 
pot. On it the bride places her hand. The bride- 
groom then places his hand on hers, and the Kula 
Maistri of the bride's village puts his hand on that of 
the bridegroom. The elders then call out in a loud 
voice " Know, caste people of Vaddadi Madugula ; 
know, caste people of Kimedi ; know, caste people of 
Gunupuram and Godairi ; know, caste people of all the 
twelve countries, that this man and woman have become 
husband and wife, and that the elders have ratified 
the ceremony." The contracting couple then throw 
rice over each other. On the morning of the following 
day, the saragatha ceremony is performed. The bride- 
groom's party repair to the bank of the local stream, 
where they are met by the caste people, who are 
presented with betel, a cheroot, and a pot of jaggery 
(crude sugar) water as cool drink. The sacred threads 
worn by the bride and bridegroom are removed at the 
conclusion of the marriage ceremonies. The remarriage 
of widows is permitted, and a younger brother may 
marry the widow of an elder brother, or vice versa. 
Divorce is also allowed, and a divorcee may remarry. 
Her new husband has to pay a sum of money, a portion 
of which goes to the first husband, while the remainder 
is devoted to a caste feast. The dead are burnt, and the 
chinna rozu (little day) death ceremony is observed. 

Goda-jati (wall people). — A sub-division of Kammas. 
The name has reference to a deadly struggle at Gandi- 
kota, in which some escaped by hiding behind a wall. 

Goda-poose (wall polishing). — An exogamous sept 
of Tsakala. 


Godari.— Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 
1 90 1, as Telugu leather-workers in Ganjam and Vizaga- 
patam. They are stated, in the Vizagapatam Manual, 
to make and sell slippers in that district. Godari is, I 
gather, a synonym of Madiga, and not a separate caste. 

Goddali (spade or axe). — An exogamous sept of 
Odde and Panta Reddi. 

GOdomalia (belonging to, or a group of forts). — A 
sub-division of Bhondari, the members of which act as 
barbers to Rajahs who reside in forts. 

GGlaka.— Recorded in the Madras Census Report, 
1 90 1, as a name meaning bastard, and clubbed with the 
Moilis, or temple servants in South Canara descended 
from dancing-girls. In the Mysore Census Report, 
1 90 1, it is denned as a term applied to the children of 
Brahmans by Malerus, or temple servants. 

GOli {Portulaca oleracea : a pot-herb). — An exoga- 
mous sept of Gauda. 

Golkonda.— A sub-division of Tsakala. 

Golla.— "The Gollas," Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,* 
" are the great pastoral caste of the Telugu people. 
The traditions of the caste give a descent from the god 
Krishna, whose sportings with the milk maids play a 
prominent part in Hindu mythology. The hereditary 
occupation of the Gollas is tending sheep and cattle, 
and selling milk, but many of them have now acquired 
lands and are engaged in farming, and some are in 
Government service. They are quiet, inoffensive, and 
comparatively honest. In the time of the Nabobs, this 
last characteristic secured to them the privilege of 
guarding and carrying treasure, and one sub-division, 
Bokhasa Gollas, owes its origin to this service. Even 

* Manual of the North Arcot district. 

285 GOLLA 

now those who are employed in packing and lifting bags 
of money in the district treasuries are called Gollas, 
though they belong to other castes. As a fact they do 
hold a respectable position, and, though poor, are not 
looked down upon, for they tend the sacred cow. Some- 
times they assert a claim to be regarded as representatives 
of the Go-Vaisya division. Their title is Mandadi, but 
it is not commonly used." Mr. Stuart writes further * 
that "the social status of the Gollas is fairly high, for 
they are allowed to mix freely with the Kapu, Kamma, 
and Balija castes, and the Brahmans will take buttermilk 
from their hands. They employ Satanis as their priests. 
In their ceremonies there is not much difference between 
them and the Kapus. The name Golla is generally 
supposed to be a shortened form of Sanskrit Gopala " 
(protector of cows). The Gollas also call themselves 
Konanulu, or Konarlu, and, like the Tamil Idaiyans, 
sometimes have the title Konar. Other titles in common 
use are Anna, Ayya, and occasionally Nayudu. 

In the Manual of the Kurnool district, it is stated 
that the Gollas "keep sheep, and sell milk and ghi 
(clarified butter). They eat and mess with the Balijas, 
and other high caste Sudras ; but, unlike their brethren 
of the south, in the matter of street processions, they 
are classed with goldsmiths, or the left-hand section. 
When any one is reduced to poverty, the others give 
him each a sheep, and restore his flock. They occa- 
sionally dedicate their girls to Venkatesa as Basavis " 

It is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam 
district, that " in the country round Madgole, legends 
are still recounted of a line of local Golla chieftains, who 

* Madras Census Report, 1891. 

GOLLA 286 

gave their name to Golgonda, and built the forts, of 
which traces still survive in those parts ". Each Telugu 
New Year's day, it is stated, Gollas come across from 
Godavari, and go round the Golla villages, reciting the 
names of the progenitors of the fallen line, and exhibiting 
paintings illustrative of their overthrow. 

" At Vajragada (diamond fort) are the ruins of a very- 
large fortress, and local tradition gives the names of 
seven forts, by which it was once defended. These are 
said to have been constructed by the Golla kings. A 
tale is told of their having kidnapped a daughter of the 
ruler of Madgole, and held out here against his attacks 
for months, until they were betrayed by a woman of their 
own caste, who showed the enemy how to cut off their 
water-supply. They then slew their womenkind, says 
the story, dashed out against the besiegers, and fell to a 
man, fighting to the last." 

Concerning the Gollas of Mysore, I gather * that 
"there are two main divisions in this caste, viz., Uru 
(village) and Kadu (forest). The two neither intermarry, 
nor eat together. A section of the Gollas, by guarding 
treasure while on transit, have earned the name of 
Dhanapala. In fact, one of the menial orifices in 
Government treasuries at the present day is that of 
Golla. The caste worships Krishna, who was born in 
this caste. The Kadu Gollas are said to have originally 
immigrated from Northern India, and are still a nomadic 
tribe, living in thatched huts outside the villages. Some 
of their social customs are akin to those of the Kadu 
Kurubas. It is said that, on the occurrence of a child- 
birth, the mother with the babe remains unattended in a 
small shed outside the village from seven to thirty days, 

* Mysore Census Report, 1901. 


287 GOLLA 

when she is taken back to her home. In the event of 
her illness, none of the caste will attend on her, but 
a Nayak (Beda) woman is engaged to do so. Marriages 
among them are likewise performed in a temporary shed 
erected outside the village, and the attendant festivities 
continue for five days, when the marriage couple are 
brought into the village. The Golla is allowed to marry 
as many wives as he likes, and puberty is no bar to 
marriage. They eat flesh, and drink spirituous liquors. 
The wife cannot be divorced except for adultery. Their 
females do not wear the bodice (ravike) usually put on 
by the women of the country. Nor do they, in their 
widowhood, remove or break the glass bangles worn at 
the wrists, as is done in other castes. But widows are 
not allowed to remarry. Only 98 persons have returned 
gotras, the chief being Yadava, Karadi, Atreya, and 
Amswasa. The first two are really sub-sects, while 
Atreya is the name of a Brahmin Rishi." Yadava, or 
descendant of King Yadu, from whom Krishna was 
descended, also occurs as a synonym for Idaiyan, the 
great Tamil shepherd class. 

Concerning the Adivi, or forest Gollas, Mr. 
F. Fawcett writes as follows.* " The people of every 
house in the village let loose a sheep, to wander whither 
it will, as a sort of perpetual scapegoat. When a woman 
feels the first pains of labour, she is turned out of the 
village into a little leaf or mat hut about two hundred 
yards away. In this hut she must bring forth her 
offspring unaided, unless a midwife can be called in to be 
with her before the child is born. For ninety days the 
woman lives in the hut by herself. If any one touches 
her, he or she is, like the woman, outcasted, and turned 

* Journ. Anth. Soc, Bombay, I, iS 

GOLLA 288 

out of the village for three months. The woman's 
husband generally makes a little hut about fifty yards from 
her, and watches over her ; but he may not go near her on 
pain of being outcasted for three months. Food is 
placed on the ground near the woman's hut, and she 
takes it. On the fourth day after parturition, a woman 
of the village goes to her, and pours water on her, but 
she must not come in contact with her. On the fifth 
day, the village people clear of stones and thorny bushes 
a little bit of ground about ten yards on the village side 
of the hut, and to this place the woman removes her hut. 
No one can do it for her, or help her. On the ninth, 
fifteenth, and thirtieth days, she removes the hut in the 
same way nearer to the village, and, again, once in each 
of the two following months. On the ninetieth day, the 
headman of the village calls the woman to come out 
of the hut. The dhobi (washerman) then washes her 
clothes. She puts on clean clothes, and the headman 
takes her to the temple of their tutelary deity Junjappa, 
where the caste pujari breaks cocoanuts, and then accom- 
panies her to her house, where a purificatory ceremony 
is performed. Junjappa, it is said, takes good care of 
the mother and child, so that death is said to be 

It is stated * that, in the Chitaldrug district of 
Mysore, " the wife of the eldest son in every family is 
not permitted to clean herself with water after obeying 
the calls of nature. It is an article of their belief that 
their flocks will otherwise not prosper." 

Writing in the early part of the last century about the 
Gollas, Buchanan informs us that " this caste has a parti- 
cular duty, the transporting of money, both belonging 

Mysore Census Report, 1891. 

289 GOLLA 

to the public and to individuals. It is said that they 
may be safely intrusted with any sum ; for, each man 
carrying a certain value, they travel in bodies numerous 
in proportion to the sum put under their charge ; and 
they consider themselves bound in honour to die in 
defence of their trust. Of course, they defend them- 
selves vigorously, and are all armed ; so that robbers 
never venture to attack them. They have hereditary 
chiefs called Gotugaru, who with the usual council settle 
all disputes, and punish all transgressions against the 
rules of caste. The most flagrant is the embezzlement 
of money entrusted to their care. On this crime being 
proved against any of the caste, the Gotugaru applies to 
Amildar, or civil magistrate, and having obtained his 
leave, immediately causes the delinquent to be shot. 
Smaller offences are atoned for by the guilty person 
giving an entertainment." 

The Golla caste has many sub-divisions, of which 
the following are examples : — 

Erra or Yerra (red). Said to be the descendants 
of a Brahman by a Golla woman. 

Ala or Mekala, who tend sheep and goats. 

Puja or Puni. 

Gangeddu, who exhibit performing bulls. 

Gauda, who, in Vizagapatam, visit the western 
part of the district during the summer months, and 
settle outside the villages. They tend their herds, and 
sell milk and curds to the villagers. 



Racha (royal). 

Peddeti. Mostly beggars, and considered low in 
the social scale, though when questioned concerning 
themselves they say they are Yerra Gollas, 

GOLLA 290 

At the census, 1901, the following were returned as 
sub-castes of the Gollas : — 

Dayyalakulam (wrestlers), Per ike Muggalu or 
Mushti Golla (beggars and exorcists), Podapotula (who 
beg from Gollas), Gavadi, and Vadugayan, a Tamil 
synonym for Gollas in Tinnevelly. Another Tamil 
synonym for Golla is Bokhisha Vadugar (treasury 
northerners). Golla has been given as a sub-division of 
Dasaris and Chakkiliyans, and Golla Woddar (Odde) as 
a synonym of a thief class in the Telugu country. In a 
village near Dummagudem in the Godavari district, the 
Rev. J. Cain writes, * are " a few families of Basava 
Gollalu. I find they are really Kois, whose grandfathers 
had a quarrel with, and separated from, their neighbours. 
Some of the present members of the families are anxious 
to be re-admitted to the society and privileges of the 
neighbouring Kois. The word Basava is commonly 
said to be derived from bhasha, a language, and the 
Gollas of this class are said to have been so called in 
consequence of their speaking a different language from 
the rest of the Gollas." 

Like many other Telugu castes, the Gollas have 
exogamous septs or intiperu, and gotras. As examples 
of the former, the following may be quoted : — 

Kokala, woman's cloth. 

Katari, dagger. 

Mugi, dumb. 

Nakkala, jackal. 

Saddikudu, cold rice or food. 

Sevala, service. 

Ullipoyala, onions. 

Vankayala, brinjal (Solatium 

Agni, fire. 
Avula, cows. 
Chinthala, tamarind. 
Chevvula, ears. 
Gundala, stones. 
Gurram, horse. 
Gorrela, sheep. 
Gdrantla, henna (Law- 
sonia alba). 

* Ind. Ant. VIII, 1879. 

291 GOLLA 

Some of these sept names occur among other classes, 
as follows : — 

Avula, Balijas, Kapus, and Yerukalas. 

Chinthala, Devangas, Komatis, Malas, and Madigas. 

Gorantla, Padma Sales. 

Gorrela, Kammas, Kapus. 

Gurram, Malas, Padma Sales, and Togatas. 

Nakkala, Kattu Marathis, and Yanadis. 

Those who belong to the Raghindala (Ficus religiosa) 
gotra are not allowed to use the leaves of the sacred fig 
or pipal tree as plates for their food. Members of the 
Palavili gotra never construct palavili, or small booths, 
inside the house for the purpose of worship. Those 
who belong to the Akshathayya gotra are said to avoid 
rice coloured with turmeric or other powder (akshantalu). 
Members of the Kommi, Jammi, and Mushti gotras 
avoid using the kommi tree, Prosopis spicigera, and 
Strychnos Nux-vomica respectively. 

Of the various sub-divisions, the Puja Gollas claim 
superiority over the others. Their origin is traced to 
Simhadri Raju, who is supposed to have been a descend- 
ant of Yayathi Raja of the Mahabaratha. Yayathi had 
six sons, the last of whom had a son named Kariyavala, 
whose descendants were as follows : — 

Penubothi (his son), 

Avula Amurthammayya, 

Kalugothi Ganganna, 

Oli Raju, 

I . 
Simhadri Raju. 


I I I I 

Peddi Erunuka Noranoka P5H 

Raju. Raju. Raju, Raju, 

The Gollas are believed to be descended from the 
four last kings. 
11-19 B 

GOLLA 292 

According to another legend, there were five 
brothers, named Poli Raju, Erranoku Raju, Katama 
Raju, Peddi Raju, and Errayya Raju, who lived at 
Yellamanchili, which, as well as Sarvasiddhi, they built. 
The Rajas of Nellore advanced against them, and killed 
them, with all their sheep, in battle. On this, Janaga- 
mayya, the son of Peddi Raju, who escaped the 
general slaughter, made up his mind to go to Kasi 
(Benares), and offer oblations to his dead father and 
uncles. This he did, and^the gods were so pleased with 
him that they transported him in the air to his native 
place. He was followed by three persons, viz., (1) 
Kulagentadu, whose descendants now recite the names 
of the progenitors of the caste ; (2) Podapottu (or 
juggler), whose descendants carry metal bells, sing, and 
produce snakes by magic ; (3) Thevasiyadu, whose 
descendants paint the events which led to the destruction 
of the Golla royalty on large cloths, and exhibit them to 
the Gollas once a year. At the time when Janagamayya 
was translated to heaven, they asked him how they were 
to earn their living, and he advised them to perform the 
duties indicated, and beg from the caste. Even at the 
present day, their descendants go round the country 
once a year, after the Telugu New Year's day, and 
collect their dues from Golla villages. 

By religion the Gollas are both Vallamulu (Vaishna- 
vites) and Striramanthulu (Saivites), between whom 
marriage is permissible. They belong to the group of 
castes who take part in the worship of Ankamma. A 
special feature of their worship is that they place in a 
bamboo or rattan box three or four long whip-like ropes 
made of cotton or Agave fibre, along with swords, 
sandals and idols. The ropes are called Virathadlu, or 
heroes' ropes. The contents of the box are set beneath 


293 GOLLA 

a booth made of split bamboo (palavili), and decorated 
with mango leaves, and flowers. There also is placed a 
pot containing several smaller pots, cowry shells, metal 
and earthenware sandals, and the image of a bull called 
bolli-avu (bull idol). When not required for the purpose 
of worship, the idols are hung up in a room, which may 
not be entered by any one under pollution. 

Some Kama Gollas earn their living by selling 
poultry, or by going about the country carrying on their 
head a small box containing idols and Virathadlu. 
Placing this at the end of a street, they do puja (worship) 
before it, and walk up and down with a rope, with 
which they flagellate themselves. As they carry the 
gods (Devarlu) about, these people are called Devara 

As the Gollas belong to the left-hand section, the 
Pedda Golla, or headman, has only a Madiga as his 

At the marriages of Mutrachas, Madigas, and some 
other classes, a form of worship called Virala puja is 
performed with the object of propitiating heroes or 
ancestors (viralu). A kindred ceremony, called Ganga 
puja, is carried out by the Gollas, the expenses of which 
amount to about a hundred rupees. This Ganga worship 
lasts over three days, during which nine patterns, called 
muggu, are drawn on the floor in five colours, and 
represent dhamarapadmam (lotus flower), palavili 
(booth), sulalu (tridents), sesha panpu (serpent's play?), 
alugula simhasanam (throne of Sakti), Viradu perantalu 
(hero and his wife), Ranivasam (Rani's palace), bonala 
(food), and Ganga. The last is a female figure, and 
probably represents Ganga, the goddess of water, though 
one of the Golla ancestors was named Gangi Raju. 
The patterns must be drawn by Madigas or Malas. 

GOLLA 294 

Three Pambalas, or Madigas skilled in this work, and 
in reciting the stories of various gods and goddesses, 
commence their work on the afternoon of the third day, 
and use white powder (rice flour), and powders coloured 
yellow (turmeric), red (turmeric and chunam), green 
(leaves of Cassia auriculata), and black (charred rice 
husk). On an occasion when my assistant was present, 
the designs were drawn on the floor of the courtyard 
of the house, which was roofed over. During the 
preparation of the designs, people were excluded from 
the yard, as some ill-luck, especially an attack of fever, 
would befall more particularly boys and those of 
feeble mind, if they caught sight of the muggu before 
the drishti thiyadam, or ceremony for removing the evil 
eye has been performed. Near the head of the figure 
of Ganga, when completed, was placed an old bamboo 
box, regarded as a god, containing idols, ropes, betel, 
flowers, and small swords. Close to the box, and on the 
right side of the figure, an earthen tray, containing a 
lighted wick fed with ghl (clarified butter) was set. On 
the left side were deposited a kalasam (brass vessel) 
representing Siva, a row of chembus (vessels) called 
bonalu (food vessels), and a small empty box tied up 
in a cloth dyed with turmeric, and called Brammayya. 
Between these articles and the figure, a sword was laid. 
Several heaps of food were piled up on the figure, and 
masses of rice placed near the head and feet. In addi- 
tion, a conical mass of food was heaped up on the right side 
of the figure, and cakes were stuck into it. All round 
this were placed smaller conical piles of food, into which 
broomsticks decorated with betel leaves were thrust. 
Masses of food, scooped out and converted into lamps, 
were arranged in various places, and betel leaves and 
nuts scattered all over the figure. Towards the feet 

295 GOLLA 

were set a chembu filled with water, a lump of food 
coloured red, and incense. The preparations concluded, 
three Gollas stood near the feet of the figure, and took 
hold of the red food, over which water had been sprin- 
kled, the incense and a fowl. The food and incense were 
then waved in front of the figure, and the fowl, after it 
had been smoked by the incense, and waved over the 
figure, had its neck wrung. This was followed by the 
breaking of a cocoanut, and offering fruits and other 
things. The three men then fell prostrate on the 
ground before the figure, and saluted the goddess. One 
of them, an old man, tied little bells round his legs, and 
stood mute for a time. Gradually he began to perspire, 
and those present exclaimed that he was about to be 
possessed by the spirit of an ancestor. Taking up a 
sword, he began to cut himself with it, especially in the 
back, and then kept striking himself with the blunt edge. 
The sword was wrested from him, and placed on the 
figure. The old man then went several times round 
the muggu, shaking and twisting his body into various 
grotesque attitudes. While this was going on, the bride- 
groom appeared on the scene, and seated himself near 
the feet of the figure. Throwing off his turban and 
upper cloth, he fell on the floor, and proceeded to kick 
his legs about, and eventually, becoming calmer, com- 
menced to cry. Being asked his name, he replied that 
he was Kariyavala Raju. Further questions were put 
to him, to which he made no response, but continued 
crying. Incense and lights were then carried round the 
image, and the old man announced that the marriage 
would be auspicious, and blessed the bride and bride- 
groom and the assembled Gollas. The ceremony con- 
cluded with the burning of camphor. The big mass of 
food was eaten by Puni Gollas. 


It is stated in the Manual of the Nellore district that, 
when a Golla bridegroom sets out for the house of his 
mother-in-law, he is seized on the way by his com- 
panions, who will not release him until he has paid a 
piece of gold. 

The custom of illatom, or application of a son-in-law, 
obtains among the Gollas, as among the Kapus and 
some other Telugu classes.* 

In connection with the death ceremonies, it may be 
noted that the corpse, when it is being washed, is made 
to rest on a mortar, and two pestles are placed by its 
side, and a lighted lamp near the head. 

There is a proverb to the effect that a Golla will not 
scruple to water the milk which he sells to his own father. 
Another proverb refers to the corrupt manner in which 
he speaks his mother-tongue. 

The insigne of the caste at Conjeeveram is a silver 
churning stick.f 

Gollari (monkey). — An exogamous sept of Gadaba. 

Gomma.— Recorded by the Rev. J. Cain as the 
name for Koyis who live near the banks of the Goda- 
vari river. Villages on the banks thereof are called 
gommu ullu. 

Gonapala (old plough). — An exogamous sept of 

Gondaliga.— The Gondaligas are described, in the 
Mysore Census Report, 1901, as being mendicants "of 
Mahratta origin like the Budabudikes, and may perhaps 
be a sub-division of them. They are worshippers of 
Durgi. Their occupation, as the name indicates, is to 
perform gondala, or a kind of torch-light dance, usually 

* See C. Rarachendrier, Collection of decisions of High Courts and the Privy 
Council applicable to dancing-girls, illatom, etc., Madras, 1892. 
t J. S. F. Mackenrie, Ind. Ant., IV, 1875. 



performed in honour of Amba Bhavani, especially after 
marriages in Desastha Brahman's houses, or at other 
times in fulfilment of any vow." 

Gone (a sack). — An exogamous sept of Mala. The 
G6ne Perikes have been summed up as being a Telugu 
caste of gunny-bag weavers, corresponding to the Janap- 
pans of the Tamil country. Gunny-bag is the popular 
and trading name for the coarse sacking and sacks made 
from jute fibre, which are extensively used in Indian 
trade.* Gone is further an occupational sub-division of 

The Gonigas of Mysore are described, in the Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as sack- weavers and makers of gunny- 
bags, agriculturists, and grain porters at Bangalore ; and 
it is noted that the abnormal fall of 66 per cent, in the 
number of the caste was due to their being confounded 
with Ganigas. 

Gonjakari. — A title of Haddi. 

Gonji (Glycosmis pentaphylla). — An exogamous sept 
of Mala. 

Gopalam (alms given to beggars). — An exogamous 
sept of Togata. 

Gopalan (those who tend cattle). — A synonym of 

Gopopuriya.-— A sub-division of Gaudo. 

Gorantla (Lawsoma alba : henna). — An exoga- 
mous sept of Golla and Padma Sale. The leaves of this 
plant are widely used by Natives as an article of toilet 
for staining the nails, and by Muhammadans for dyeing 
the hair red. 

Gorava. — A synonym of Kuruba. 

Goravaru.— A class of Canarese mendicants. 

* Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson. 

GORE 298 

Gore.— Recorded, at times of census, as a synonym 
of Lambadi. Gora means trader or shop-keeper, and 
trading Lambadis may have assumed the name. 

Gorige (Cyamopsis psoralioides). — An exogamous 
sept of Devanga. 

Gorrela (sheep). — An exogamous sept of Golla, 
Kamma, and Kapu. Konda gorri (hill sheep) occurs as 
an exogamous sept of Jatapu. 

Gosangi.— A synonym for Madiga, recorded as 
Kosangi, in the Madras Census Report, 1901. The 
Gosangulu are described in the Vizagapatam Manual 
(1869), as " beggars who style themselves descendants of 
Jambavanta, the bear into which Brahma transformed 
himself, to assist Rama in destroying Ravana. The 
Gosangis are considered to be illegitimate descend- 
ants of Madigas, and a curious thing about them is that 
their women dress up like men, and sing songs when 
begging. As mendicants they are attached to the 

Gosayi or Goswami. — The Gosayis are immigrant 
religious mendicants from Northern and Western India. 
I gather from the Mysore Census Reports that " they 
mostly belong to the Dandi sub-division. The Gosayi 
is no caste ; commonly any devotee is called a Gosayi, 
whether he lives a life of celibacy or not ; whether he 
roams about the country collecting alms, or resides in 
a house like the rest of the people ; whether he leads 
an idle existence, or employs himself in trade. The 
mark, however, that distinguishes all who bear this name 
is that they are devoted to a religious life. Some 
besmear their bodies with ashes, wear their hair dis- 
hevelled and uncombed, and in some instances coiled 
round the head like a snake or rope. They roam about 
the country in every direction, visiting especially spots 


of reputed sanctity, and as a class are the pests of society 
and incorrigible rogues. Some of them can read, and a 
few may be learned ; but for the most part they are 
stolidly ignorant. Most of them wear a yellowish cloth, 
by which they make themselves conspicuous. The 
Gosayis, although by profession belonging to the reli- 
gious class, apply themselves nevertheless to commerce 
and trade. As merchants, bankers and tradesmen, they 
hold a very respectable position. They never marry. 
One of the chief peculiarities of this caste is that 
Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras, the two 
former especially, may, if they choose, become Gosayis ; 
but if they do so, and unite with the members of this 
fraternity in eating and drinking, holding full and free 
intercourse with them, they are cut off for ever from 
their own tribes. It is this circumstance which consti- 
tutes Gosayis a distinct and legitimate caste, and not 
merely a religious order. At death a horrible custom 
is observed. A cocoanut is broken on the head of the 
deceased by a person specially appointed for the purpose, 
until it is smashed to pieces. The body is then wrapped 
in a reddish cloth, and thrown into the Ganges. A 
partial explanation of this practice is furnished in 
Southern India. The final aim of Hindu religious life 
is Nirvana or Moksham in the next life, and this can 
only be attained by those holy men, whose life escapes, 
after smashing the skull, through the sushumna nadi, a 
nerve so called, and supposed to pervade the crown of 
the head. The dying or dead Sanyasi is considered to 
have led such a holy life as to have expired in the 
orthodox manner, and the fiction is kept up by breaking 
the skull post mortem, in mimicry of the guarantee of 
his passage to eternal bliss. Accordingly, the dead body 
of a Brahman Sanyasi in Southern India undergoes the 

GOSU 300 

same process and is buried, but never burned or thrown 
into the river." 

A few Gosayis, at the Mysore census, returned 
gotras, of which the chief were Achuta and Daridra 
(poverty-stricken). In the Madras Census Report, 1901, 
Mandula (medicine man) and Bavaji are returned as a 
sub-division and synonym of Gosayi. The name Guse 
or Gusei is applied to Oriya Brahmans owing to their 
right of acting as gurus or family priests. 

Gosu (pride). — An exogamous sept of Devanga. 

Goundan.— It is noted, in the Salem Manual, that 
" some of the agricultural classes habitually append the 
title Goundan as a sort of caste nomenclature after their 
names, but the word applies, par excellence, to the head 
of the village, or Or Goundan as he is called." As 
examples of castes which take Goundan as their title, 
the Pallis, Okkiliyans, and Vellalas may be cited. A 
planter, or other, when hailing a Malayali of the 
Shevaroy hills, always calls him Goundan. 

Goyi (lizard : Varanus). — An exogamous sept of 

Gramani.— The title of some Shanans, and of the 
headman of the Khatris. In Malabar, the name gramam 
(a village) is applied to a Brahmanical colony, or col- 
lection of houses, as the equivalent of the agraharam of 
the Tamil country.* 

Gudala.— The Gudalas are a Telugu caste of basket- 
makers in Vizagapatam and Ganjam. The name is 
derived from guda, a basket for baling water. For the 
following note I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. 
The original occupation of the caste is said to have been 
the collection of medicinal herbs and roots for native 

* Wigram. Malabar Law and Custom. 


doctors and sick persons, which is still carried on by- 
some Gudalas at Saluru town. The principal occupa- 
tions, however, are the manufacture of bamboo baskets, 
and fishing in fresh water. 

Like other Telugu castes, the Gudalas have 
exogamous septs or intiperulu, e.g., korra (Setaria 
italica), paththi (cotton), nakka (jackal) and ganti (hole 
pierced in the ear-lobe). The custom of menarikam, 
whereby a man should marry his maternal uncle's 
daughter, is practiced. Marriage generally takes place 
before a girl reaches puberty. A Brahman officiates at 
weddings. The bride-price (voli) consists of a new cloth 
for the bride, and seven rupees for her parents, which 
are taken by the bridegroom's party to the bride's house, 
together with some oil and turmeric for the bridal bath, 
and the sathamanam (marriage badge). A feast is 
held, and the sathamanam is tied on the bride's neck. 
The newly married pair are conducted to the house of 
the bridegroom, where a further feast takes place, after 
which they return to the bride's home, where they 
remain for three days. Widows are permitted to remarry 
thrice, and the voli on each successive occasion is Rs. 3, 
Rs. 2, and Rs. 2-8-0. When a widow is remarried, 
the sathamanam is tied on her neck near a mortar. 

The members of the caste reverence a deity called 
Ekkaladevata, who is said to have been left behind at 
their original home. The dead are cremated, and the 
chinna rozu (little day) death ceremony is observed. 
On the third day, cooked rice is thrown over the spot 
where the corpse was burnt. 

Gudavandlu.— Recorded, in the Nellore Manual, as 
Vaishnavites, who earn their livelihood by begging. 
The name means basket/people, and probably refers to 
Satanis, who carry a basket (guda) when begging. 

GUDI 302 

Gudi (temple). — A sub-division of Okkiliyan, an 
exogamous sept of Jogi, and a name for temple Dasaris, 
to distinguish them from the Donga or thieving Dasaris. 

Gudigara. — In the South Canara Manual, the Gudi- 
garas are summed up as follows. " They are a Canarese 
caste of wood-carvers and painters. They are Hindus 
of the Saivite sect, and wear the sacred thread. Shivalli 
Brahmans officiate as their priests. Some follow the 
aliya santana mode of inheritance (in the female line), 
others the ordinary law. They must marry within the 
caste, but not within the same gotra or family. Infant 
marriage is not compulsory, and they have the dhare form 
of marriage. Among those who follow the aliya santana 
law, both widows and divorced women may marry again, 
but this is not permitted among the other sections. The 
dead are either cremated or buried, the former being the 
preferential mode. The use of alcoholic liquor, and fish 
and flesh is permitted. Their ordinary title is Setti." 

11 The Gudigars, or sandal-wood carvers," Mr. D'Cruz 
writes,* " are reported to have come originally from Goa, 
their migration to Mysore and Canara having been occa- 
sioned by the attempts of the early Portuguese invaders 
to convert them to Christianity. The fact that their 
original language is Konkani corroborates their reputed 
Konkanese origin. They say that the derivation of the 
word Gudigara is from gudi, a temple, and that they 
were so called because they were, in their own country, 
employed as carvers and painters in the ornamentation 
of temples. Another derivation is from the Sanskrit 
kuttaka (a carver). They assert that their fellow 
castemen are still employed in turning, painting, and 
other decorative arts at Goa. Like the Chitrakaras 

• Thurston. Monograph on Wood-carving in Southern India. 1903. 


(ornamenters or decorative artists), they claim to be 
Kshatriyas, and tradition has it that, to escape the wrath 
of Parasu Rama in the sixth incarnation of Vishnu, who 
vowed to destroy all Kshatriyas, they adopted the pro- 
fession of carvers and car-builders. They are also expert 
ivory-carvers, and it has been suggested that they may 
be distantly connected with the Kondikars, or ivory- 
carvers of Bengal. The art of sandalwood carving is 
confined to a few families in the Sorab and Sagar taluks 
of the Shimoga district, in the north-west corner of the 
province. There are two or three families in Sagar, and 
about six in Sorab, which contribute in all about thirty- 
five artisans employed in the craft. The art is also 
practiced by their relations, who found a domicile in 
Hanavar, Kumpta, Sirsi, Siddapur, Biligi, and Banavasi 
in the North Canara district. But the work of the latter 
is said to be by no means so fine as that executed by the 
artisans of Sorab and Sagar. The artisans of North 
Canara, however, excel in pith-work of the most exquisite 
beauty. They usually make basingas, i.e., special fore- 
head ornaments, richly inlaid with pearls, and worn on 
the occasion of marriage. The delicate tools used by 
the wood-carvers are made from European umbrella 
spokes, ramrods, and country steel. The main stimulus, 
which the art receives from time to time at the present 
day, is from orders from the Government, corporate 
public bodies, or Maharajas, for address boxes, cabinets, 
and other articles specially ordered for presentations, or 
for the various fine-art exhibition, for which high prices 
are paid." In conversation with the workmen from Sorab 
and Sagar for work in the palace which is being built for 
H.H. the Maharaja of Mysore, it was elicited that there 
are some Gudigars, who, from want of a due taste for the 
art, never acquire it, but are engaged in carpentry and 


turning. Others, having acquired land, are engaged in 
cultivation, and fast losing all touch with the art. At 
Udipi in South Canara, some Gudigars make for sale 
large wooden buffaloes and human figures, which are 
presented as votive offerings at the Iswara temple at 
Hiriadkap. They also make wooden dolls and painted 
clay figures. 

The following extracts from Mr. L. Rice's ■ Mysore 
Gazetteer' may be appropriately quoted. " The designs 
with which the Gudigars entirely cover the boxes, desks, 
and other articles made, are of an extremely involved and 
elaborate pattern, consisting for the most part of intricate 
interlacing foliage and scroll-work, completely enveloping 
medallions containing the representation of some Hindu 
deity or subject of mythology, and here and there relieved 
by the introduction of animal forms. The details, though 
in themselves often highly incongruous, are grouped and 
blended with a skill that seems to be instinctive in the 
East, and form an exceedingly rich and appropriate 
ornamentation, decidedly oriental in style, which leaves 
not the smallest portion of the surface of the wood 
untouched. The material is hard, and the minuteness of 
the work demands the utmost care and patience. Hence 
the carving of a desk or cabinet involves a labour of 
many months, and the artists are said to lose there eye- 
sight at a comparatively early age. European designs 
they imitate to perfection." And again : " The articles 
of the Gudigar's manufacture chiefly in demand are boxes, 
caskets and cabinets. These are completely covered with 
minute and delicate scroll-work, interspersed with figures 
from the Hindu Pantheon, the general effect of the pro- 
fuse detail being extremely rich. The carving of Sorab 
is considered superior to that of Bombay or Canton, 
and, being a very tedious process requiring great care, is 


expensive. The Gudigars will imitate admirably any 
designs that may be furnished them. Boards for album- 
covers, plates from Jorrock's hunt, and cabinets surrounded 
with figures, have thus been produced for European 
gentlemen with great success." A gold medal was 
awarded to the Gudigars at the Delhi Durbar Exhibition, 
1903, for a magnificent sandal- wood casket (now in the 
Madras Museum), ornamented with panels representing 
hunting scenes. 

When a marriage is contemplated, the parents of the 
couple, in the absence of horoscopes, go to a temple, and 
receive from the priest some flowers which have been 
used for worship. These are counted, and, if their num- 
ber is even, the match is arranged, and an exchange of 
betel leaves and nuts takes place. On the wedding day, 
the bridegroom goes, accompanied by his party, to the 
house of the bride, taking with him a new cloth, a female 
jacket, and a string of black beads with a small gold 
ornament. They are met en route by the bride's party. 
Each party has a tray containing rice, a cocoanut, and a 
looking-glass. The females of one party place kunkuma 
(red powder) on the foreheads of those of the other party, 
and sprinkle rice over each other. At the entrance to 
the marriage pandal (booth), the bride's brother pours 
water at the feet of the bridegroom, and her father leads 
him into the pandal. The new cloth, and other articles, 
are taken inside the house, and the mother or sister of 
the bridegroom, with the permission of the headman, ties 
the necklet of black beads on the bride's neck. Her 
maternal uncle takes her up in his arms, and carries her 
to the pandal. Thither the bridegroom is conducted by 
the bride's brother. A cloth is held as a screen between 
the contracting couple, who place garlands of flowers 
round each other's necks. The screen is then removed. 


A small vessel, containing milk and water, and decorated 
with mango leaves, is placed in front of them, and the 
bride's mother, taking hold of the right hand of the bride, 
places it in the right hand of the bridegroom. The 
officiating Brahman places a betel leaf and cocoanut on 
the bride's hand, and her parents pour water from a 
vessel thereon. The Brahman then ties the kankanams 
(wrist-threads) on the wrists of the contracting couple, 
and kindles the sacred fire (homam). The guests present 
them with money, and lights are waved before them by 
elderly females. The bridegroom, taking the bride by 
hand, leads her into the house, where they sit on a mat, 
and drink milk out of the same vessel. A bed is made 
ready, and they sit on it, while the bride gives betel 
to the bridegroom. On the second day, lights are waved, 
in the morning and evening, in front of them. On the 
third day, some red-coloured water is placed in a vessel, 
into which a ring, an areca nut, and rice are dropped. 
The couple search for the ring, and, when it has been 
found, the bridegroom puts it on the finger of the bride. 
They then bathe, and try to catch fish in a cloth. After 
the bath, the wrist-threads are removed. 

Gudisa (hut). — An exogamous sept of Boya and 

Gudiya.— The Gudiyas are the sweet-meat sellers 
of the Oriya country. They rank high in the social scale, 
and some sections of Oriya Brahmans will accept drink- 
ing water at their hands. Sweet-meats prepared by them 
are purchased for marriage feasts by all castes, including 
Brahmans. The caste name is derived from gudo 
(jaggery). The caste is divided into two sections, one of 
which is engaged in selling sweet-meats and crude sugar, 
and the other in agriculture. The former are called 
Gudiyas, and the latter Kolata, Holodia, or Bolasi 


Gudiyas in different localities. The headman of the caste 
is called Sasumallo, under whom are assistant officers, 
called Behara and Bhollobaya. In their ceremonial 
observances on the occasion of marriage, death, etc., the 
Gudiyas closely follow the Gaudos. They profess the 
Paramartho or Chaitanya form of Vaishnavism, and also 
worship Takuranis (village deities). 

The Gudiyas are as particular as Brahmans in con- 
nection with the wearing of sect marks, and ceremonial 
ablution. Cloths worn during the act of attending to the 
calls of nature are considered to be polluted, so they 
carry about with them a special cloth, which is donned 
for the moment, and then removed. Like the Gudiyas, 
Oriya Brahmans always carry with them a small cloth 
for this purpose. 

The titles of the Gudiyas are Behara, Sahu, and 
Sasumallo. In the Madras Census Report, 1901, the 
caste name is given as Godiya. 

Gudugudupandi. — A Tamil synonym for Budu- 

Guha Vellala.— The name assumed by some Semba- 
davans with a view to connecting themselves with Guha 
(or Kuha), who rowed the boat of Rama to Ceylon, and, 
as Vellalas, gaining a rise in the social scale. Maravans 
also claim descent from Guha. 

Gujarati.— A territorial name, meaning people from 
Gujarat, some of whom have settled in the south where 
they carry on business as prosperous traders. In the 
Madras Census Report, 1901, Gujjar is returned as a 
synonym. At a public meeting held in Madras, in 1906, 
to concert measures for establishing a pinjrapole (hospital 
for animals) it was resolved that early steps should 
be taken to collect public subscriptions from the 
Hindu communityigenerally, andain particular from the 
n-20 B 


Nattukottai Chettis, Gujaratis, and other mercantile 
classes. The mover of the resolution observed that 
Gujaratis were most anxious, on religious grounds, to 
save all animals from pain, and it was a religious 
belief with them that it was sinful to live in a town 
where there was no pinjrapole. A pinjrapole is properly 
a cage (pinjra) for the sacred bull (pola) released in the 
name of Siva. # It is noted by Mr. Drummond t that 
every marriage and mercantile transaction among the 
Gujaratis is taxed with a contribution ostensibly for the 
pinjrapole. In 1901, a proposal was set on foot to estab- 
lish a Gujarati library and reading-room in Madras, to 
commemorate the silver jubilee of the administration of 
the Gaekwar of Baroda. 

Gulimi (pickaxe). — An exogamous sept of Kuruba. 

Gullu {Solatium ferox). — A gotra of Kurni. 

Gulti.— A section of Boya, members of which are to 
be found in Choolay, Madras City. 

Gummadi (Cucurbita maxima). — An exogamous 
sept of Tsakalas, who will not cultivate the plant, or eat 
the pumpkin thereof. 

Guna.— Guna or Guni is a sub-division of Velama. 
The name is derived from the large pot (guna), which 
dyers use. 

Guna Tsakala (hunchbacked washerman). — Said 
to be a derisive name given to Velamas by Balijas. 

Gundala (stones). — An exogamous sept of Golla. 

Gundam (pit). — An exogamous sept of Chenchu. 

Gundu (cannon-ball). — A gotra of Kurni. 

Guni.— Guni is the name of Oriya dancing-girls and 
prostitutes. It is derived from the Sanskrit guna, mean- 
ing qualifications or skill, in reference to their possession 

* Yule and Burnell. Hobson-Jobson. 

t Illustrations of the Guzarattee, Mahraltee, and English languages, 1808. 


of qualification for, and skill acquired by training when 
young in enchanting by music, dancing, etc. 

Gunta (well). — A sub-division of Boyas, found in the 
Anantapur district, the members of which are employed 
in digging wells. 

Guntaka (harrow). — An exogamous sept of Kapu. 

Guntala (pond). — An exogamous sept of Boya. 

Gupta.— A Vaisya title assumed by some Muttans 
(trading caste) of Malabar, and Tamil Pallis. 

Guri.— Recorded, in the Vizagapatam Manual, as 
a caste of Paiks or fighting men. Gurikala (marksman) 
occurs, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a sub- 
division of Patra. 

Gurram (horse). — An exogamous sept of Chenchu, 
Golla, Mala, Padma Sale, and Togata. The Gurram 
Togatas will not ride on horseback. Kudire, also 
meaning horse, occurs as a gotra or exogamous sept of 
Kurni and Vakkaliga. 

Gurukkal.— For the following note on the Guruk- 
kals or Kurukkals of Travancore, I am indebted to Mr. 
N. Subramani Aiyar. The Kurukkals are priests of 
castes, whose religious rites are not presided over by 
Ilayatus. They are probably of Tamil origin. Males 
are often called Nainar and females Nachchiyar, which 
are the usual titles of the Tamil Kurukkals also. In 
the Keralolpatti the caste men are described as Chilam- 
pantis, who are the adiyars or hereditary servants of 
Padmanabhaswami in Trivandrum. They seem to have 
been once known also as Madamutalis or headmen of 
matts, and Tevara Pandarams, or Pandarams who assisted 
the Brahman priest in the performance of religious rites 
in the Maharaja's palace. It is said that the Kurukkals 
originally belonged to the great Vaisya branch of Manu's 
fourfold system of caste, and migrated from the Pandyan 


country, and became the dependants of the Kupakkara 
family of Pottis in Trivandrum, whose influence, both 
religious and secular, was of no mean order in mediaeval 
times. These Pottis gave them permission to perform 
all the priestly services of the Ambalavasi families, who 
lived to the south of Quilon. It would appear from 
the Keralolpatti and other records that they had the 
kazhakam or sweeping and other services at the inner 
entrance of Sri Padmanabha's temple till the time of 
Umayamma Rani in the eighth century of the Mala- 
bar era. As, however, during her reign, a Kurukkal 
in league with the Kupakkara Potti handed over the 
letter of invitation, entrusted to him as messenger, for 
the annual utsavam to the Tarnallur Nambudiripad, the 
chief ecclesiastical functionary of the temple, much later 
than was required, the Kurukkal was dismissed from 
the temple service, and ever afterwards the Kurukkals 
had no kazhakam right there. There are some temples, 
where Kurukkals are the recognised priests, and they are 
freely admitted for kazhakam service in most South 
Travancore temples. To the north of Quilon, however, 
the Variyars and Pushpakans enjoy this right in prefer- 
ence to others. Some Kurukkals kept gymnasia in 
former times, and trained young men in military exer- 
cises. At the present day, a few are agriculturists. 

The Kurukkals are generally not so fair in complexion 
as other sections of the Ambalavasis. Their houses are 
known as bhavanams or vidus. They are strict vege- 
tarians, and prohibited from drinking spirituous liquor. 
The females (Kurukkattis) try to imitate Nambutiri 
Brahmans in their dress and ornaments. The arasilattali, 
which closely resembles the cherutali, is worn round the 
neck, and the chuttu in the ears. The mukkutti, but not 
the gnattu, is worn in the nose. The minnu or marriage 


ornament is worn after the tali-kettu until the death 
of the tali-tier. The females are tattooed on the fore- 
head and hands, but this practice is going out of fashion. 
The sect marks of women are the same as those of 
the Nambutiris. The Kurukkals are Smartas. The 
Tiruvonam asterism in the month of Avani (August- 
September) furnishes an important festive occasion. 

The Kurukkals are under the spiritual control of 
certain men in their own caste called Vadhyars. They 
are believed to have been originally appointed by the 
Kuppakkara Pottis, of whom they still take counsel. 

The Kurukkals observe both the tali-kettu kalyanam 
and sambandham. The male members of the caste 
contract alliances either within the caste, or with 
Marans, or the Vatti class of Nayars. Women receive 
cloths either from Brahmans or men of their own caste. 
The maternal uncle's or paternal aunt's daughter is 
regarded as the most proper wife for a man. The 
tali-kettu ceremony is celebrated when a girl is seven, 
nine or eleven years old. The date for its celebration 
is fixed by her father and maternal uncle in consultation 
with the astrologer. As many youths are then selected 
from among the families cf the inangans or relations as 
there are girls to be married, the choice being decided 
by the agreement of the horoscopes of the couple. The 
erection of the first pillar of the marriage pandal (booth) 
is, as among other Hindu castes, an occasion for festivity. 
The ceremony generally lasts over few days, but may be 
curtailed. On the wedding day, the bridegroom wears 
a sword and palmyra leaf, and goes in procession to the 
house of the bride. After the tali has been tied, the couple 
are looked on as being impure, and the pollution is 
removed by bathing, and the pouring of water, consecrated 
by the hymns of Vadhyars, over their heads. For the 


sambandham, which invariably takes place after a girl has 
reached puberty, the relations of the future husband visit 
her home, and, if they are satisfied as to the desirability of 
the match, inform her guardians of the date on which 
they will demand the horoscope. When it is received on 
the appointed day, the astrologer is consulted, and, if 
he is favourably inclined, a day is fixed for the samband- 
ham ceremony. The girl is led forward by her maternal 
aunt, who sits among those who have assembled, and 
formally receives cloths. Cloths are also presented to 
the maternal uncle. Divorce is common, and effected 
with the consent of the Vadhyar. Inheritance is in the 
female line (marumakkathayam). It is believed that, at 
the time of their migration to Travancore, the Kurukkals 
wore their tuft of hair (kudumi) behind, and followed the 
makkathayam system of inheritance (in the male line). 
A change is said to have been effected in both these 
customs by the Kupakkara Potti in the years 1752 and 
1777 of the Malabar era. 

The Kurukkals observe most of the religious cere- 
monies of the Brahmans. No recitation of hymns 
accompanies the rites of namakarana and annaprasana. 
The chaula and upanayana are performed between the 
ninth and twelfth years of age. On the previous day, 
the family priest celebrates the purificatory rite, and ties 
a consecrated thread round the right wrist of the boy. 
The tonsure takes place on the second day, and on the 
third day the boy is invested with the sacred thread, and 
the Gayatri hymn recited. On the fourth day, the 
Brahmacharya rite is closed with a ceremony correspond- 
ing to the Samavartana. When a girl reaches puberty, 
some near female relation invites the women of the village, 
who visit the house, bringing sweetmeats with them. 
The girl bathes, and reappears in public on the fifth day. 

313 HADDI 

Only theJpulikudi or drinking tamarind juice, is celebrated, 
as among the Nayars, during the first pregnancy. The 
sanchayana, or collection of bones after the cremation 
of a corpse, is observed on the third, fifth, or seventh 
day after death. Death pollution lasts for eleven days. 
Tekketus are built in memory of deceased ancestors. 
These are small masonry structures built over graves, in 
which a lighted lamp is placed, and at which worship is 
performed on anniversary and other important occasions 
{See Brahman.) 

GutOb.— A sub-division of Gadaba. 

Gutta K6yi. — Recorded by the Rev. J. Cain as 
a name for hill Koyis. 

Gtivvala (doves). — An exogamous sept of Boya and 

Haddi.-— The Haddis are a low class of Oriyas, 
corresponding to the Telugu Malas and Madigas, and the 
Tamil Paraiyans. It has been suggested that the name 
is derived from haddi, a latrine, or hada, bones, as 
members of the caste collect all sorts of bones, and trade 
in them. The Haddis play on drums for all Oriya 
castes, except Khondras, Tiyoros, Tulabinas, and Sanis. 
They consider the Khondras as a very low class, and will 
not purchase boiled rice sold in the bazaar, if it has been 
touched by them. Castes lower than the Haddis are the 
Khondras and Jaggalis of whom the latter are Telugu 
Madigas, who have settled in the southern part of 
Ganjam, and learnt the Oriya language. 

The Haddis may be divided into Haddis proper, 
Rellis, and Chachadis, which are endogamous divisions. 


The Haddis proper never do sweeping or scavenging 
work, which are, in some places, done by Rellis. The 
Relli scavengers are often called Bhatta or Karuva 
Haddis. The Haddis proper go by various names, e.g., 
Sudha Haddi, Godomalia Haddi, etc., in different locali- 
ties. The Haddis work as coolies and field labourers, 
and the selling of fruits, such as mango, tamarind, 
Zizyphus Jujuba, etc., is a favourite occupation. In 
some places, the selling of dried fish is a monopoly of 
the Rellis. Sometimes Haddis, especially the Karuva 
Haddis, sell human or yak hair for the purpose of 
female toilette. The Haddis have numerous septs or 
bamsams, one of which, hathi (elephant) is of special 
interest, because members of this sept, when they see the 
foot-prints of an elephant, take some dust from the spot, 
and make a mark on the forehead with it. They also 
draw the figure of an elephant, and worship it when 
they perform sradh (memorial service for the dead) and 
other ceremonies. 

There are, among the Haddi communities, two 
caste officers entitled Behara and Nayako, and difficult 
questions which arise are settled at a meeting of the 
officers of several villages. It is said that sometimes, if 
a member of the caste is known to have committed an 
offence, the officers select some members of the caste 
from his village to attend the meeting, and borrow money 
from them. This is spent on drink, and, after the 
meeting, the amount is recovered from the offender. If 
he does not plead guilty at once, a quarrel ensues, and 
more money is borrowed, so as to increase the debt. 
In addition to the Behara and Nayako, there are, in 
some places, other officials called Adhikari or Chowdri, 
or Bodoporicha and Bhollobhaya. The caste title is 
Nayako. Members of higher castes are sometimes, 

315 HADDI 

especially if they have committed adultery with Haddi 
women, received into the caste. 

Girls are married after puberty. Though contrary 
to the usual Oriya custom, the practice of menarikam, or 
marriage with the maternal uncle's daughter, is permitted. 
When the marriage of a young man is contemplated, his 
father, accompanied by members of his caste, proceeds 
to the home of the intended bride. If her parents are in 
favour of the match, a small space is cleared in front of 
the house, and cow-dung water smeared over it. On 
this spot the young man's party deposit| a pot of toddy, 
over which women throw Zizyphus Jujuba leaves and 
rice, crying at the same time Ulu-ula. The village 
officials, and a few respected members of the caste, 
assemble in the house, and, after the engagement has 
been announced, indulge in a drink. On an auspicious 
day, the bridegroom's party go to the home of the bride, 
and place, on a new cloth||spread on the floor, the bride- 
price (usually twenty rupees), and seven betel leaves, 
myrabolams ( Terminalia fruits), areca nuts, and cakes. 
Two or three of the nuts are then removed from the 
cloth, cut up, and distributed among the leading men. 
After the wedding day has been fixed, an adjournment 
is made to the toddy shop. In some cases, the marriage 
ceremony is very simple, the bride being conducted to 
the home of the bridegroom, where a feast is held. In 
the more elaborate form of ceremonial, the contracting 
couple are seated on a dais, and the Behara or Nayako, 
who officiates as priest, makes fire (homam) before them, 
which he feeds with twigs of Zizyphus Jujuba and 
Eugenia Jambolana. Mokuttos (forehead chaplets) and 
wrist-threads are tied on the couple, and their hands are 
connected by the priest by means of a turmeric-dyed 
thread, and then disconnected by an unmarried girl. 

HADDI 316 

The bride's brother arrives on the scene, dressed up as 
a woman, and strikes the bridegroom. This is called 
solabidha, and is practiced by many Oriya castes. The 
ends of the cloths of the bride and bridegroom are tied 
together, and they are conducted inside the house, the 
mother-in-law throwing Zizyphus leaves and rice over 

Like other Oriya castes, the Haddis observe pollution 
for seven days on the occasion of the first menstrual 
period. On the first day, the girl is seated, and, after 
she has been smeared with oil and turmeric paste, seven 
women throw Zizyphus leaves and rice over her. She 
is kept either in a corner of the house, or in a separate 
hut, and has by her a piece of iron and a grinding-stone 
wrapped up in a cloth. If available, twigs of Strychnos 
Nux-vomica are placed in a corner. Within the room 
or hut, a small framework, made of broom-sticks and 
pieces of palmyra palm leaf, or a bow, is placed, and 
worshipped daily. If the girl is engaged to be married, 
her future father-in-law is expected to give her a new 
cloth on the seventh day. 

The Haddis are worshippers of various Takuranis 
(village deities), e.?., Kalumuki, Sathabavuni, and 
Baidaro. Cremation of the dead is more common than 
burial. Food is offered to the deceased on the day after 
death, and also on the tenth and eleventh days. Some 
Haddis proceed, on the tenth day, to the spot where the 
corpse was cremated or buried, and, after making an 
effigy on the ground, offer food. Towards night, they 
proceed to some distance from the house, and place food 
and fruits on a cloth spread on the ground. They then 
call the dead man by his name, and eagerly wait till 
some insect settles on the cloth. As soon as this happens, 
the cloth is folded up, carried home, and shaken over the 

317 HADDI 

floor close to the spot where the household gods are 
kept, so that the insect falls on sand spread on the floor. 
A light is then placed on the sanded floor, and covered 
with a new pot. After some time, the pot is removed, 
and the sand examined for any marks which may be left 
on it. This ceremony seems to correspond to the jola 
jola handi (pierced pot) ceremony of other castes (see 

"The Rellis," Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,* "are a 
caste of gardeners and labourers, found chiefly in the 
districts of Ganjam and Vizagapatam. In Telugu the 
word relli or rellis means grass, but whether there is 
any connection between this and the caste name I 
cannot say. They generally live at the foot of the hills, 
and sell vegetables, mostly of hill production." 

For the following note on the Rellis of Vizagapatam, 
I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The Rellis 
are also known as Sachchari, and they further call 
themselves Sapiri. The caste recognises the custom 
of menarikam, by which a man marries his maternal 
uncle's daughter. A girl is usually married after 
puberty. The bride-price is paid sometime before the 
day fixed for the marriage. On that day, the bride goes, 
with her parents, to the house of the bridegroom. The 
caste deities Odda Polamma (commonly known as Sapiri 
Daivam) and Kanaka Durgalamma are invoked by the 
elders, and a pig and sheep are sacrificed to them. A 
string of black beads is tied by the bridegroom round 
the bride's neck, and a feast is held, at which the sacri- 
ficed animals are eaten, and much liquor is imbibed. 
On the following morning, a new cloth, kunkumam (red 
powder), and a few pieces of turmeric are placed in a 

* Madras Census Report, 1891. 

HADDI 318 

small basket or winnow, and carried in procession, to the 
accompaniment of music, through the streets by the 
bride, with whom is the bridegroom. The ceremony is 
repeated on the third day, when the marriage festivities 
come to an end. In a note on the Rellis of Ganjam, 
Mr. S. P. Rice writes * that " the bridegroom, with the 
permission of the Village Magistrate, marches straight 
into the bride's house, and ties a wedding necklace 
round her neck. A gift of seven and a half rupees 
and a pig to the castemen, and of five rupees to the 
bride's father, completes this very primitive ceremony." 
Widows are allowed to remarry, but the string of beads is 
not tied round the neck. The caste deities are usually 
represented by crude wooden dolls, and an annual festi- 
val in their honour, with the sacrifice of pigs and sheep, 
is held in March. The dead are usually buried, and, 
as a rule, pollution is not observed. Some Rellis have, 
however, begun to observe the chinnarozu (little day) 
death ceremony, which corresponds to the chinnadinamu 
ceremony of the Telugus. The main occupation of the 
caste is gardening, and selling fruits and vegetables. 
The famine of 1875-76 reduced a large number of Rellis 
to the verge of starvation, and they took to scavenging 
as a means of earning a living. At the present day, the 
gardeners look down on the scavengers, but a prosperous 
scavenger can be admitted into their society by paying 
a sum of money, or giving a feast. Pollution attaches 
only to the scavengers, and not to the gardening section. 
In the Census Report, 1901, the Pakais or sweepers 
in the Godavari district, who have, it is said, gone 
thither from Vizagapatam, are returned as a sub-caste of 
Relli. The usual title of the Rellis is Gadu. 

• Occasional Essays on Native South Indian Life, 

S l 9 HADDI 

The Haddis who inhabit the southern part of Ganjam 
are known as Ghasis by other castes, especially Telugu 
people, though they call themselves Haddis. The name 
Ghasi has reference to the occupation of cutting grass, 
especially for horses. The occupational title of grass- 
cutter is said by Yule and Burnell * to be " probably a 
corruption representing the Hindustani ghaskoda or 
ghaskata, the digger or cutter of grass, the title of a ser- 
vant employed to collect grass for horses, one such being 
usually attached to each horse, besides the syce or horse- 
keeper (groom). In the north, the grass-cutter is a man ; 
in the south the office is filled by the horsekeeper's wife." 
It is noted in 'Letters from Madras ' f that "every 
horse has a man and a maid to himself; the maid cuts 
grass for him ; and every dog has a boy. I inquired 
whether the cat had any servants, but I found he was 
allowed to wait upon himself." In addition to collecting 
and selling grass, the Ghasis are employed at scavenging 
work. Outsiders, even Jaggalis (Madigas), Paidis, and 
Panos, are admitted into the Ghasi community. 

The headman of the Ghasis is called Bissoyi, and he 
is assisted by a Behara and Gonjari. The Gonjari is the 
caste servant, one of whose duties is said to be the appli- 
cation of a tamarind switch to the back of delinquents. 

Various exogamous septs or bamsams occur among 
the Ghasis, of which naga (cobra), asvo (horse), chintala 
(tamarind), and liari (parched rice) may be noted. Adult 
marriage is the rule. The betrothal ceremony, at which 
the kanyo mulo, or bride-price, is paid, is the occasion of 
a feast, at which pork must be served, and the Bissoyi of 
the future bride's village ties a konti (gold or silver bead) 
on her neck. The marriage ceremonial corresponds in 

* Hobson-Jobson. f Letters from Madras. By a Lady. 1843, 

HAJAM 320 

the main with that of the Haddis elsewhere, but has been 
to some extent modified by the Telugu environment. 
The custom, referred to by Mr. S. P. Rice, of suspending 
an earthen pot filled with water from the marriage 
booth is a very general one, and not peculiar to the 
Ghasis. It is an imitation of a custom observed by the 
higher Oriya castes. The striking of the bridegroom 
on the back by the bride's brother is the solabidha of 
other castes, and the mock anger (rusyano) in which 
the latter goes away corresponds to the alagi povadam 
of Telugu castes. 

At the first menstrual ceremony of a Ghasi girl, she 
sits in a space enclosed by four arrows, round which a 
thread is passed seven times. 

The name Odiya Toti (Oriya scavenger) occurs as a 
Tamil synonym for Haddis employed as scavengers in 
Municipalities in the Tamil country. 

Hajam.— The Hindustani name for a barber, and 
used as a general professional title by barbers of various 
classes. It is noted, in the Census Reports, that only 
fifteen out of more than two thousand individuals returned 
as Hajam were Muhammadans, and that, in South 
Canara, Hajams are Konkani Kelasis, and of Marathi 

Halaba.— See Pentiya. 

Halavakki.— A Canarese synonym for Budu- 

Halepaik.— The Halepaiks are Canarese toddy- 
drawers, who are found in the northern taluks of the 
South Canara district. The name is commonly derived 
from hale, old, and paika, a soldier, and it is said that 
they were formerly employed as soldiers. There is 
a legend that one of their ancestors became commander 
of the Vijayanagar army, was made ruler of a State, 


and given a village named Halepaikas as a jaghir 
(hereditary assignment of land). Some Halepaiks say 
that they belong to the Tengina (cocoanut palm) section, 
because they are engaged in tapping that palm for toddy. 

There is intermarriage between the Canarese-speaking 
Halepaiks and the Tulu-speaking Billava toddy-drawers, 
and, in some places, the Billavas also call themselves 
Halepaiks. The Halepaiks have exogamous septs or 
balis, which run in the female line. As examples of 
these, the following may be noted j: — 

Chendi (Cerbera Odollum), Honne {Calophyllum 
inophyllum), Tolar (wolf), Devana (god) and Ganga. It 
is recorded * of the Halepaiks of the Canara district in 
the Bombay Presidency that " each exogamous section, 
known as a bali (literally a creeper), is named after some 
animal or tree, which is held sacred by the members of 
the same. This animal, tree or flower, etc., seems to 
have been once considered the common ancestor of the 
members of the bali, and to the present day it is both 
worshipped by them, and held sacred in the sense that they 
will not injure it. Thus the members of the nagbali, 
named apparently after the nagchampa flower, will not 
wear this flower in their hair, as this would involve 
injury to the plant. The Kadavebali will not kill the 
sambhar (deer : kadave), from which they take their 
name." The Halepaiks of South Canara seem to attach 
no such importance to the sept names. Some, however, 
avoid eating a fish called Srinivasa, because they fancy 
that the streaks on the body have a resemblance to the 
Vaishnavite sectarian mark (namam). 

All the Halepaiks of the Kundapur taluk profess 
to be Vaishnavites, and have become the disciples of a 

* Monograph, Eth. Survey of Bombay, 12, 1904. 
1 1-2 I 

halEpaik 322 

Vaishnava Brahman settled in the village of Sankarappa- 
kodlu near Wondse in that taluk. Though Venkata- 
ramana is regarded as their chief deity, they worship 
Baiderkulu, Panjurli, and other bhuthas (devils). The 
Pujaris (priests) avoid eating new grain, new areca nuts, 
new sugarcane, cucumbers and pumpkins, until a feast, 
called kaidha puja, has been held. This is usually 
celebrated in November- December, and consists in 
offering food, etc., to Baiderkulu. Somebody gets 
possessed by the bhutha, and pierces his abdomen with 
an arrow. 

In their caste organisation, marriage and death 
ceremonies, the Halepaiks closely follow the Billavas. 
They do not, however, construct a car for the final death 
ceremonies. As they are Vaishnavites, after purifica- 
tion from death pollution by their own caste barber, a 
Vaishnavite mendicant, called Dassaya, is called in, and 
purifies them by sprinkling holy water and putting the 
namam on their foreheads. 

There are said to be some differences between the 
Halepaiks and Billavas in the method of carrying out the 
process of drawing toddy. For example, the Halepaiks 
generally grasp the knife with the fingers directed 
upwards and the thumb to the right, while the Billavas 
hold the knife with the fingers directed downwards and 
the thumb to the left. For crushing the flower-buds 
within the spathe of the palm, Billavas generally use a 
stone, and the Halepaiks a bone. There is a belief that, 
if the spathe is beaten with the bone of a buffalo which 
has been killed by a tiger, the yield of toddy will, if the 
bone has not touched the ground, be greater than if an 
ordinary bone is used. The Billavas generally carry a 
long gourd, and the Halepaiks a pot, for collecting the 
toddy in. 


Halige (plank). — A gotra of Kurni. 

Hallikara (village man). — Recorded, in the Mysore 
Census Report, 1901, as a division of Vakkaliga. 

Halu (milk). — An exogamous sept of Holeya and 
Kurni, a sub-division of Kuruba, and a name for 
Vakkaligas who keep cattle and sell milk. Halu mata 
(milk caste) has been given as a synonym for Kuruba. 
In the Mysore Census Report, 1901, Halu Vakkal- 
Makkalu, or children of the milk caste, occurs as a 
synonym for Halu Vakkaliga, and, in the South Canara 
Manual, Halvaklumakkalu is given as a synonym for 
Gauda. The Madigas call the intoxicant toddy halu. 
(See Pal.) 

Hanbali.— A sect of Muhammadans, who are fol- 
lowers of the Imam Abu 'Abdi 'llah Ahmad Ibn 
Hanbal, the founder of the fourth orthodox sect of the 
Sunnis, who was born at Baghdad A.H. 164 (A.D. 780). 
" His fame began to spread just at the time when 
disputes ran highest concerning the nature of the Qur an, 
which some held to have existed from eternity, whilst 
others maintained it to be created. Unfortunately for 
Ibn Hanbal, the Khalifah-at-Muttasim was of the latter 
opinion, to which this doctor refusing to subscribe, he 
was imprisoned, and severely scourged by the Khalifah's 

Hatlda. — A title of Canarese Kumbaras. 

Handichikka.— The Handichikkas are stated t to 
be " also generally known as Handi Jogis. This caste 
is traced to the Pakanati sub-section of the Jogis, which 
name it bore some five generations back when the 
traditional calling was buffalo-breeding. But, as they 
subsequently degenerated to pig-rearing, they came to be 

* T. P. Hughes. Dictionary of Islam. f Mysore Census Report, 1 901. 

11-21 B 


known as Handi J6gi or Handichikka, handi being the 
Canarese for pig. 

Hanifi.— A sect of Muhammadans, named after Abu 
Hanifah Anhufman, the great Sunni Imam and juriscon- 
sult, and the founder of the Hanifi sect, who was born 
A.H. 80 (A.D. 700). 

Hanuman.— -Hanuman, or Hanumanta, the monkey 
god, has been recorded as a sept of Domb, and gotra of 

Hari Shetti.— A name for Konkani-speaking Vanis 

Haruvar.— A sub-division of the Badagas of the 
Nilgiri hills. 

Hasala.— Concerning the Hasalas or Hasulas, Mr. 
Lewis Rice writes that " this tribe resembles the Soliga 
(or Sholagas). They are met with along the ghats on 
the north-western frontier of Mysore. They are a 
short, thick-set race, very dark in colour, and with curled 
hair. Their chief employment is felling timber, but 
they sometimes work in areca nut gardens and gather 
wild cardamoms, pepper, etc. They speak a dialect of 

In the Mysore Census Report, 1891, it is stated that 
" the Hasalaru and Maleru are confined to the wild 
regions of the Western Malnad. In the caste generation, 
they are said to rank above the Halepaikas, but above 
the Holeyas and Madigas. They are a diminutive but 
muscular race, with curly hair and dolichocephalous 
head. Their mother-tongue is Tulu. Their numbers 
are so insignificantly small as not to be separately defined. 
They are immigrants from South Canara, and lead a life 
little elevated above that of primordial barbarism. They 
live in small isolated huts, which are, however, in the 
case of the Hasalas, provided not onlyr.with the usual 

325 HAS ALA 

principal entrance, through which one has to crawl in, 
but also with a half-concealed hole in the rear, a kind of 
postern, through which the shy inmates steal out into the 
jungle at the merest suspicion of danger, or the approach 
of a stranger. They collect the wild jungle produce, 
such as cardamoms, etc., for their customary employers, 
whose agrestic slaves they have virtually become. Their 
huts are annually or periodically shifted from place to 
place, usually the most inaccessible and thickest parts of 
the wilderness. They are said to be very partial to toddy 
and arrack (alcoholic liquor). It is expected that these 
savages smuggle across the frontier large quantities of 
wild pepper and cardamoms from the ghat forests of the 
province. Their marriage customs are characterised by 
the utmost simplicity, and the part played therein by the 
astrologer is not very edifying. Their religion does not 
seem to transcend devil worship. They bury the dead. 
A very curious obsequial custom prevails among the 
Hasalas. When any one among them dies, somebody's 
devil is credited with the mishap, and the astrologer is 
consulted to ascertain its identity. The latter throws 
cowries (shells of Cyprcea monetd) for divination, and 
mentions some neighbour as the owner of the devil thief. 
Thereupon, the spirit of the dead is redeemed by the heir 
or relative by means of a pig, fowl, or other guerdon. 
The spirit is then considered released, and is thence for- 
ward domiciled in a pot, which is supplied periodically 
with water and nourishment. This may be looked upon 
as the elementary germ of the posthumous care-taking, 
which finds articulation under the name of sradh in multi- 
farious forms, accompanied more or less with much 
display in the more civilised sections of the Hindu 
community. The Hasalaru are confined to Tirthahalli 
and Mudigere." 

HASBE 326 

It is further recorded in the Mysore Census Report, 
1 89 1, that "in most of the purely Malnad or hilly taluks, 
each vargdar, or proprietor of landed estate, owns a set 
of servants styled Huttalu or Huttu-alu and Mannalu or 
Mannu-alu. The former is the hereditary servitor of the 
family, born in servitude, and performing agricultural work 
for the landholder from father to son. The Mannalu is 
a serf attached to the soil, and changes hands with it. 
They are usually of the Holaya class, but, in some places, 
the Hasalar race have been entertained." (See Holeya.) 

Concerning the Hasalaru, Mr. H. V. Nanjundayya 
writes to me that " their marriages take place at night, 
a pujari of their caste ties the tali, a golden disc, round 
the bride's neck. Being influenced by the surrounding 
castes, they have taken of late to the practice of inviting 
the astrologer to be present. In the social scale they 
are a little superior to Madigas and Holeyas, and, like 
them, live outside the village, but they do not eat beef. 
Their approach is considered to defile a Brahman, and 
they do not enter the houses of non-Brahmans such as 
Vakkaligas and Kurubas. They have their own caste 
barbers and washermen, and have separate wells to draw 
water from." 

Hasbe.— Hasbe or Hasubu, meaning a double pony 
pack-sack, has been recorded as an exogamous sept of 
Holeya and Vakkaliga. 

Hastham (hand). — An exogamous sept of Boya. 

Hatagar.— A sub-division of Devangas, who are also 
called Kodekal Hatagaru. 

Hathi (elephant). — A sept of the Oriya Haddis. 
When members of this sept see the foot-prints of an 
elephant, they take some dust from the spot, and make 
a mark on the forehead with it. They also draw the 
figure of an elephant, and worship it, when they perform 


sradh (memorial service for the dead) and other cere- 

Hathinentu Manayavaru (eighteen house). — A 
sub-division of Devanga. 

Hatti (hut or hamlet). — An exogamous sept of 
Kappilliyan and Kuruba. 

Hattikankana (cotton wrist-thread). — A sub-divi- 
sion of Kurubas, who tie a cotton thread round the wrist 
at the marriage ceremony. 

Heggade.— The Heggades are summed up, in the 
Madras Census Report, 1901, as being a class of Cana- 
rese cultivators and cattle-breeders. Concerning the 
Heggades of South Canara, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes* 
that they " are classified as shepherds, but the present 
occupation of the majority of them is cultivation. Their 
social position is said to be somewhat inferior to that of 
the Bants. They employ Brahmins as their priests. In 
their ceremonies, the rich follow_closely the Brahminical 
customs. On the second day of their marriage, a pretence 
of stealing a jewel from the person of the bride is made. 
The bridegroom makes away with the jewel before dawn, 
and in the evening the bride's party proceeds to the 
house where the bridegroom is to be found. The owner 
of the house is told that a theft has occurred in the bride's 
house and is -asked whether the thief has taken shelter 
in his house. A negative answer is given, but the bride's 
party conducts a regular search. In the meanwhile a boy 
is dressed to represent the bridegroom. The searching 
party mistake this boy for the bridegroom, arrest him, 
and produce him before the audience as the culprit. 
This disguised bridegroom, who is proclaimed to be the 
thief, throws his mask at the bride, when it is found to 

* Manual of the South Canara district. 


the amusement of all present that he is not the bride- 
groom. The bride's party then, confessing their inabi- 
lity to find the bridegroom, request the owner of the 
house to produce him. He is then produced, and 
conducted in procession to the bride's house." 

Some Bants who use the title Heggade wear the 
sacred thread, follow the hereditary profession of temple 
functionaries, and are keepers of the demon shrines 
which are dotted all over South Canara. 

Of the Heggades who have settled in the Coorg 
country, the Rev. G. Richter states * that " they conform, 
in superstitions and festivals, to Coorg custom, but are 
excluded from the community of the Coorgs, in whose 
presence they are allowed to sit only on the floor, whilst 
the former occupy a chair, or, if they are seated on a mat, 
the Heggades must not touch it." In the Mysore and 
Coorg Gazetteer, Heggade is defined by Mr. L. Rice as 
the headman of a village, the head of the village police, 
to whom, in some parts of the Province, rent-free lands 
are assigned for his support. 

Heggade is sometimes used as a caste name by 
Kurubas, and occurs as an exogamous sept of Stanikas. 

Hegganiga.— -A sub-division of Ganigas, who use 
two oxen for their oil-pressing mills. 

Helava.— -Helava, meaning lame person, is the name 
of a class of mendicants, who, in Bellary, Mysore, and 
other localities, are the custodians of village histories. 
They generally arrive at the villages mounted on a 
bullock, and with their legs concealed by woollen blankets. 
They go from house to house, giving the history of the 
different families, the names of heroes who died in war, 
and so forth. 

* Manual of Coorg. 


Hijra (eunuchs). — See Khoja. 

Hire (big). — A sub-division of Kurni. 

Hittu (flour). — A gotra of Kurni. 

Holadava.— A synonym of Gatti. 

Holeya.— The bulk of the Holeyas are, in the Madras 
Presidency, found in South Canara, but there are a con- 
siderable number in Coimbatore and on the Nilgiris 
(working on cinchona, tea, and coffee estates). In the 
Manual of the South Canara district it is noted that 
" Holeyas are the field labourers, and former agrestic 
serfs of South Canara, Pulayan being the Malayalam and 
Paraiyan the Tamil form of the same word. The name 
is derived by Brahmins from hole, pollution, and by others 
from hola, land or soil, in recognition of the fact that, as 
in the case of the Paraiyan, there are customs remaining 
which seem to indicate that the Holeyas were once 
masters of the land ; but, whatever the derivation may 
be, it is no doubt the same as that of Paraiyan and 
Pulayan. The Holeyas are divided into many sub- 
divisions, but the most important are Mari, Mera, and 
Mundala or Bakuda. The Mera Holeyas are the most 
numerous, and they follow the ordinary law of inheritance 
through males, as far as that can be said to be possible 
with a class of people who have absolutely nothing to 
inherit. Of course, demon propitiation (bhuta worship) 
is practically the exclusive idea of the Holeyas, and every 
one of the above sub-divisions has four or five demons to 
which fowls, beaten rice, cocoanuts and toddy, are offered 
monthly and annually. The Holeyas have, like other 
classes of South Canara, a number of balis (exogamous 
septs), and persons of the same bali cannot intermarry. 
Though the marriage tie is as loose as is usual among the 
depressed and low castes of Southern India, their marriage 
ceremony is somewhat elaborate. The bridegroom's 


party goes to the bride's house on a fixed day with rice, 
betel leaf and a few areca nuts, and waits the whole night 
outside the bride's hut, the bridegroom being seated on 
a mat specially made by the bride. On the next morning 
the bride is made to sit opposite the bridegroom, with 
a winnowing fan between them filled with betel leaf, etc. 
Meanwhile the men and women present throw rice over 
the heads of the couple. The bride then accompanies 
the bridegroom to his hut, carrying the mat with her. On 
the last day the couple take the mat to a river or tank 
where fish may be found, dip the mat into the water, and 
catch some fish, which they let go after kissing them. 
A grand feast completes the marriage. Divorce is easy, 
and widow marriage is freely practiced. Holeyas will 
eat flesh including beef, and have no caste scruples 
regarding the consumption of spirituous liquor. Both 
men and women wear a small cap made of the leaf of the 
areca palm." The Holeyas who were interviewed by us 
all said that they do not go through the ceremony of 
catching fish, which is performed by Shivalli Brahmans 
and Akkasales. 

" All Tulu Brahmin chronicles," Mr. H. A. Stuart 
writes * " agree in ascribing the creation of Malabar 
and Canara, or Kerala, Tuluva, and Haiga to Parasu 
Rama, who reclaimed from the sea as much land as he 
could cover by hurling his battle-axe from the top of the 
Western Ghauts. A modified form of the tradition 
states that Parasu Rama gave the newly reclaimed land # 
to Naga and Machi Brahmins, who were not true 
Brahmins, and were turned out or destroyed by fisher- 
men and Holeyas, who held the country till the Tulu 
Brahmins were introduced by Mayur Varma (of the 

Manual of the South Canara district. 


Kadamba dynasty). All traditions unite in attributing 
the introduction of the Tulu Brahmins of the present day 
to Mayur Varma, but they vary in details connected 
with the manner in which they obtained a firm footing in 
the land. One account says that Habashika, chief of 
the Koragas, drove out Mayur Varma, but was in turn 
expelled by Mayur Varma's son, or son-in-law, Lokaditya 
of Gokarnam, who brought Brahmins from Ahi-Kshetra, 
and settled them in thirty-two villages. Another makes 
Mayur Varma himself the invader of the country, which 
till then had remained in the possession of the Holeyas 
and fishermen who had turned out Parasu Rama's 
Brahmins. Mayur Varma and the Brahmins whom he 
had brought from Ahi-Kshetra were again driven out by 
Nanda, a Holeya chief, whose son Chandra Sayana had, 
however, learned respect for Brahmins from his mother, 
who had been a dancing-girl in a temple. H is admiration 
for them became so great that he not only brought back 
the Brahmins, but actually made over all his authority 
to them, and reduced his people to the position of slaves. 
A third account makes Chandra Sayana, not a son of a 
Holeya king, but a descendant of Mayur Varma and a 
conqueror of the Holeya king." 

In Coorg, the Rev. G. Richter writes, * " the Holeyas 
are found in the Coorg houses all over the country, and 
do all the menial work for the Coorgs, by whom, though 
theoretically freemen under the British Government, 
they were held as glebce adscripti in a state of abject 
servitude until lately, when, with the advent of European 
planters, the slave question was freely discussed, and 
the ' domestic institution ' practically abolished. The 
Holeyas dress indifferently, are of dirty habits, and eat 

• Manual of Coorg. 


whatever they can get, beef included. Their worship 
is addressed to Eiyappa Devaru and Chamundi, or Kali 
goddess once every month ; and once every year they 
sacrifice a hog or a fowl." 

Of the Holeyas of the Mysore province, the following 
account is given in the Mysore Census Reports, 1891 
and 1901. " The Holeyas number 502,493 persons, 
being 10*53 per cent, of the total population. They 
constitute, as their name implies, the back-bone of 
cultivation in the country. Hola is the Kanarese name 
for a dry-crop field, and Holeya means the man of such 
field. The caste has numerous sub-divisions, among 
which are Kannada, Gangadikara, Maggada (loom), 
and Morasu. The Holeyas are chiefly employed as 
labourers in connection with agriculture, and manufac- 
ture with hand-looms various kinds of coarse cloth or 
home-spun, which are worn extensively by the poorer 
classes, notwithstanding that they are being fast sup- 
planted by foreign cheap fabrics. In some parts of the 
Mysore district, considerable numbers of the Holeyas are 
specially engaged in betel-vine gardening. As labourers 
they are employed in innumerable pursuits, in which 
manual labour preponderates. The Aleman sub-division 
furnishes recruits as Barr sepoys. It may not be amiss 
to quote here some interesting facts denoting the measure 
of material well-being achieved by, and the religious 
recognition accorded to the outcastes at certain first-class 
shrines in Mysore. At Melkote in the Mysore district, 
the outcastes, i.e., the Holeyas and Madigs, are said 
to have been granted by the great Visishtadvaita 
reformer, Ramanujacharya, the privilege of entering the 
Vishnu temple up to the sanctum sanctorum, along with 
Brahmans and others, to perform worship there for three 
days during the annual car procession. The following 


anecdote, recorded by Buchanan,* supplies the raison 
d'etre for the concession, which is said to have also been 
earned by their forebears having guarded the sacred 
murti or idol. On Ramanujacharya going to Melkota 
to perform his devotions at that celebrated shrine, he 
was informed that the place had been attacked by the 
Turk King of Delhi, who had carried away the idol. 
The Brahman immediately set out for that capital, and 
on arrival found that the King had made a present of 
the image to his daughter, for it is said to be very hand- 
some, and she asked for it as a plaything. All day the 
princess played with the image, and at night the god 
assumed his own beautiful form, and enjoyed her bed, 
for Krishna is addicted to such forms of adventures. 
Ramanujacharya, by virtue of certain mantras, obtained 
possession of the image, and wished to carry it off. He 
asked the Brahmans to assist him, but they refused ; on 
which the Holeyas volunteered, provided the right of 
entering the temple was granted to them. Ramanuja- 
charya accepted their proposal, and the Holeyas, having 
posted themselves between Delhi and Melkota, the 
image of the god was carried down in twenty-four hours. 
The service also won for the outcastes the envied title of 
Tiru-kulam or the sacred race. In 1 799, however, when 
the Dewan (prime minister) Purnaiya visited the holy 
place, the right of the outcastes to enter the temple was 
stopped at the dhvaja stambham, the consecrated mono- 
lithic column, from which point alone can they now 
obtain a view of the god. On the day of the car proces- 
sion, the Tiru-kulam people, men, women and children, 
shave their heads and bathe with the higher castes in the 
kalyani or large reservoir, and carry on their head small 

* Journey through Mysore, Canara and Malabar. 


earthen vessels filled with rice and oil, and enter the 
temple as far as the flagstaff referred to above, where 
they deliver their offerings, which are appropriated by 
the Dasayyas, who resort simultaneously as pilgrims to 
the shrine. Besides the privilege of entering the temple, 
the Tiru-kula Holeyas and Madigs have the right to 
drag the car, for which service they are requited by 
getting from the temple two hundred seers of ragi (grain), 
a quantity of jaggery (crude sugar), and few bits of the 
dyed cloth used for decorating the pandal (shed) which is 
erected for the procession. At the close of the proces- 
sion, the representatives of the aforesaid classes receive 
each a flower garland at the hands of the Sthanik or chief 
worshipper, who manages to drop a garland synchro- 
nously into each plate held by the recipients, so as to avoid 
any suspicion of undue preference. In return for these 
privileges, the members of the Tiru-kulam used to render 
gratuitous services such as sweeping the streets round 
the temple daily, and in the night patrolling the whole 
place with drums during the continuance of the annual 
procession, etc. But these services are said to have 
become much abridged and nearly obsolete under the 
recent police and municipal regime. The privilege of 
entering the temple during the annual car procession is 
enjoyed also by the outcastes in the Vishnu temple at 
Belur in the Hassan district. It is, however, significant 
that in both the shrines, as soon as the car festival is over, 
i.e., on the ioth day, the concession ceases, and the 
temples are ceremonially purified. 

" In the pre-survey period, the Holeya or Madig 
Kulvadi, in the maidan or eastern division, was so closely 
identified with the soil that his oath, accompanied by 
certain formalities and awe-inspiring solemnities, was 
considered to give the coup de gidce to long existing and 


vexatious boundary disputes. He had a potential voice 
in the internal economy of the village, and was often the 
fidus Achates of the patel (village official). In the 
malnad, however, the Holeya had degenerated into the 
agrestic slave, and till a few decades ago under the 
British rule, not only as regards his property, but also 
with regard to his body, he was not his own master. 
The vargdar or landholder owned him as a hereditary 
slave. The genius of British rule has emancipated him, 
and his enfranchisement has been emphasized by the 
allurements of the coffee industry with its free labour and 
higher wages. It is, however, said that the improvement 
so far of the status of the outcastes in the malnad has not 
been an unmixed good, inasmuch as it is likewise a 
measure of the decadence of the supari (betel) gardens. 
Be that as it may, the Holeya in the far west of the 
province still continues in many respects the bondsman of 
the local landholder of influence ; and some of the social 
customs now prevailing among the Holeyas there, as 
described hereunder, fully bear out this fact. 

" In most of the purely malnad or hilly taluks, each 
vargdar, or proprietor of landed estate, owns a set of 
servants called Huttalu or Huttu-Alu and Mannalu or 
Mannu-Alu. The former is the hereditary servitor of the 
family, born in servitude, and performing agricultural 
work for the landholder from father to son. The Mannalu 
is a serf attached to the soil, and changes with it. These 
are usually of the Holeya class, but in some places men 
of the Hasalar race have been entertained. To some 
estates or vargs only Huttu-alus are attached, while 
Mannu-alus work on others. Notwithstanding the 
measure of personal freedom enjoyed by all men at the 
present time, and the unification of the land tenures in 
the province under the revenue survey and settlement, 


the traditions of birth, immemorial custom, ignorance, and 
never-to-be-paid-off loads of debt, tend to preserve in 
greater or less integrity the conditions of semi-slavery 
under which these agrestic slaves live. It is locally 
considered the acme of unwisdom to loosen the im- 
memorial relations between capital and labour, especially 
in the remote backwoods, in which free labour does not 
exist, and the rich supari cultivation whereof would be 
ruined otherwise. In order furthermore to rivet the ties 
which bind these hereditary labourers to the soil, it is 
alleged that the local capitalists have improvised a kind 
of Gretna Green marriage among them. A legal marriage 
of the orthodox type contains the risk of a female servant 
being lost to the family in case the husband happened 
not to be a Huttalu or Mannalu. So, in order to obviate 
the possible loss, a custom prevails according to which a 
female Huttalu or Mannalu is espoused in what is locally 
known as the manikattu form, which is neither more nor 
less than licensed concubinage. She may be given up 
after a time, subject to a small fine to the caste, and any- 
body else may then espouse her on like conditions. Not 
only does she then remain in the family, but her children 
will also become the landlord's servants. These people 
are paid with a daily supply of paddy or cooked food, and 
a yearly present of clothing and blankets (kamblis). On 
special occasions, and at car feasts, they receive in 
addition small money allowances. 

" In rural circles, in which the Holeyas and Madigs 
are kept at arm's length by the Bramanical bodies, and 
are not allowed to approach the sacerdotal classes beyond 
a fixed limit, the outcastes maintain a strict semi-religious 
rule, whereby no Brahman can enter the Holeya's 
quarters without necessitating a purification thereof. 
They believe that the direst calamities will befall them 


and theirs if otherwise. The ultraconservative spirit of 
Hindu priestcraft casts into the far distance the realization 
of the hope that the lower castes will become socially- 
equal even with the classes usually termed Sudras. But 
the time is looming in the near distance, in which they 
will be on a level in temporal prosperity with the social 
organisms above them. Unlike the land tenures said to 
prevail in Chingleput or Madras, the Mysore system 
fully permits the Holeyas and Madigs to hold land in 
their own right, and as sub-tenants they are to be found 
almost everywhere. The highest amount of land assess- 
ment paid by a single Holeya is Rs. 279 in the Bangalore 
district, and the lowest six pies in the Kolar and Mysore 
districts. The quota paid by the outcastes towards the 
land revenue of the country aggregates no less than 
three lakhs of rupees, more than two-thirds being paid by 
the Holeyas, and the remainder by the Madigs. These 
facts speak for themselves, and afford a reliable index to 
the comparative well-being of these people. Instances 
may also be readily quoted, in which individual Holeyas, 
etc., have risen to be money-lenders, and enjoy compara- 
tive affluence. Coffee cultivation and allied industries 
have thrown much good fortune into their lap. Here 
and there they have also established bhajane or prayer 
houses, in which theistic prayers and psalms are recited 
by periodical congregation. A beginning has been made 
towards placing the facilities of education within easy 
reach of these depressed classes." 

In connection with the Holeyas of South Canara, it 
is recorded * that " the ordinary agricultural labourers 
of this district are Holeyas or Pariahs of two classes, 
known as Mulada Holeyas and Salada Holeyas, the 

* Manual of the South Canara district. 



former being the old hereditary serfs attached to Muli 
wargs (estates), and the latter labourers bound to their 
masters' service by being in debt to them. Nowadays, 
however, there is a little difference between the two 
classes. Neither are much given to changing masters, 
and, though a Mulada Holeya is no longer a slave, he is 
usually as much in debt as a Salada Holeya, and can 
only change when his new master takes the debt over. 
To these labourers cash payments are unknown, except 
occasionally in the case of Salada Holeyas, where there 
is a nominal annual payment to be set off against interest 
on the debt. In other cases interest is foregone, one or 
other of the perquisites being sometimes docked as an 
equivalent. The grain wage consists of rice or paddy 
(unhusked rice), and the local seer is, on the average, as 
nearly as possible one of 80 tolas. The daily rice pay- 
ments to men, women, and children vary as follows : — 
Men . . . . . . from 1 seer to 2 seers. 

Women . . . . . . „ £ ,, to 2 „ 

Children . . . . . . ,, § „ to 1 seer. 

11 In addition to the daily wages, and the midday meal 
of boiled rice which is given in almost all parts, there are 
annual perquisites or privileges. Except on the coast of 
the Mangalore taluk and in the Coondapoor taluk, every 
Holeya is allowed rent free from J to J acre of land, and 
one or two cocoanut or palmyra trees, with sometimes a 
jack or mango tree in addition. The money- value of the 
produce of this little allotment is variously estimated at 
from 1 to 5 rupees per annum. Throughout the whole 
district, cloths are given every year to each labourer, the 
money value being estimated at 1 rupee per adult, and 6 
annas for a child. It is also customary to give a cumbly 
(blanket) in the neighbourhood of the ghauts, where the 
damp and cold render a warm covering necessary. On 


three or four important festivals, presents of rice and 
other eatables, oil and salt are given to each labourer, or, 
in some cases, to each family. The average value of these 
may be taken at i rupee per labourer, or Rs. 4 per family. 
Presents are also made on the occasion of a birth, marri- 
age, or funeral, the value of which varies very much in 
individual cases. Whole families of Holeyas are attached 
to the farms, but, when their master does not require 
their services, he expects them to go and work elsewhere 
in places where such work is to be got. In the interior, 
outside work is not to be had at many seasons, and the 
master has to pay them even if there is not much for 
them to do, but, one way or another, he usually manages 
to keep them pretty well employed all the year round." 

In a note on the Kulwadis, Kulvadis or Chalavadis 
of the Hassan district in Mysore, Captain J. S. F. 
Mackenzie writes * that " every village has its Holigiri — 
as the quarter inhabited by the Holiars is called — outside 
the village boundary hedge. This, I thought, was 
because they are considered an impure race, whose touch 
carries defilement with it. Such is the reason generally 
given by the Brahman, who refuses to receive anything 
directly from the hands of a Holiar, and yet the Brah- 
mans consider great luck will wait upon them if they can 
manage to pass through the Holigiri without being 
molested. To this the Holiars have a strong objection, 
and, should a Brahman attempt to enter their quarters, 
they turn out in a body and slipper him, in former times 
it is said to death. Members of the other castes may 
come as far as the door, but they must not enter the 
house, for that would bring the Holiar bad luck. If, 
by chance, a person happens to get in, the owner takes 

* Ind. Ant. II, 1873. 
11-22 B 

holeVa 340 

care to tear the intruder's cloth, tie up some salt in one 
corner of it, and turn him out. This is supposed to 
neutralize all the good luck which might have accrued to 
the trespasser, and avert any evil which might have 
befallen the owner of the house. All the thousand-and- 
one castes, whose members find a home in the village, 
unhesitatingly admit that the Kulwadi is de jure the 
rightful owner of the village. He who was is still, in a 
limited sense, * lord of the village manor.' If there is a 
dispute as to the village boundaries, the Kulwadi is the 
only one competent to take the oath as to how the 
boundary ought to run. The old custom for settling such 
disputes was as follows. The Kulwadi, carrying on his 
head a ball made of the village earth, in the centre of 
which is placed some water, passes along the boundary. 
If he has kept the proper line, everything goes well ; but 
should he, by accident, even go beyond his own proper 
boundary, then the ball of earth, of its own accord, goes 
to pieces, the Kulwadi dies within fifteen days, and his 
house becomes a ruin. Such is the popular belief. 
Again, the skins of all animals dying within the village 
boundaries are the property of the Kulwadi, and a good 
income he makes from this source. To this day a village 
boundary dispute is often decided by this one fact. If 
the Kulwadis agree, the other inhabitants of the villages 
can say no more. When — in our forefathers' days, as 
the natives say — a village was first established, a stone 
called ' karu kallu ' is set up. To this stone the Patel 
once a year makes an offering. The Kulwadi, after the 
ceremony is over, is entitled to carry off the rice, etc., 
offered. In cases where there is no Patel, the Kulwadi 
goes through the yearly ceremony. But what I think 
proves strongly that the Holia was the first to take 
possession of the soil is that the Kulwadi receives, and is 


entitled to receive, from the friends of any person who 
dies in the village, a certain fee or as my informant 
forcibly put it, ' They buy from him the ground for the 
dead.' This fee is still called in Canarese nela haga, 
from nela earth, and haga, a coin worth i anna 2 pies. 
In Munzerabad the Kulwadi does not receive this fee 
from those ryots who are related to the headman. Here 
the Kulwadi occupies a higher position. He has, in 
fact, been adopted into the Patel's family, for, on a death 
occurring in such family, the Kulwadi goes into mourn- 
ing by shaving his head. He always receives from the 
friends the clothes the deceased wore, and a brass 
basin. The Kulwadi. however, owns a superior in the 
matter of burial fees. He pays yearly a fowl, one 
hana (4 annas 8 pies), and a handful of rice to the 
agent of the Sudgadu Siddha, or lord of the burning 
ground (q.v.)." 

A Kulwadi, whom I came across, was carrying a 
brass ladle bearing the figure of a couchant bull (Basava) 
and a lingam under a many-headed cobra canopy. This 
ladle is carried round, and filled with rice, money, and 
betel, on the occasion of marriages in those castes, of 
which the insignia are engraved on the handle. These 
insignia were as follows : — 

Weavers — Shuttle and brush. 

Bestha — Fish. 

Uppara — Spade and basket for collecting salt. 

Korama — Baskets and knife for splitting canes 
and bamboos. 

Idiga — Knife, and apparatus for climbing palm- 

Hajam — Barber's scissors, razor, and sharpening 

Ganiga — Oil-press. 


Madavali — Washerman's pot, fire-place, mallet, 
and stone. 

Kumbara — Potter's wheel, pots, and mallet. 
Vakkaliga — Plough. 
Chetti — Scales and basket. 
Kuruba — Sheep-shears. 

A small whistle, called kola-singanatha, made of gold, 
silver, or copper, is tied round the neck of some Holeyas, 
Vakkaligas, Besthas, Agasas and Kurubas, by means of 
threads of sheep's wool intertwined sixteen times. All 
these castes are supposed to belong to the family of 
the God Bhaira, in whose name the whistle is tied by 
a Bairagi at Chunchingiri near Nagamangala. It is 
usually tied in fulfilment of a vow taken by the parents, 
and the ceremony costs from a hundred to two hundred 
rupees. Until the vow is fulfilled, the person concerned 
cannot marry. At the ceremony, the Bairagi bores a 
hole in the right ear-lobe of the celebrant with a needle 
called diksha churi, and from the wound ten drops of 
blood fall to the ground {cf. J6gi Purusha). He is then 
bathed before the whistle is tied round his neck. As the 
result of wearing the whistle, the man attains to the rank 
of a priest in his caste, and is entitled to receive alms 
and meals on festive and ceremonial occasions. He 
blows his whistle, which emits a thin squeak, before 
partaking of food, or performing his daily worship. 

It is noted in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, that 
the marriage of the Holeyas is "nothing but a feast, at 
which the bridegroom ties the bottu (marriage badge) 
round the bride's neck. The wife cannot be divorced 
except for adultery. Widows are prohibited from re- 
marrying, but the caste winks at a widow's living with 
a man." In an account given to me of marriage among 
the Gangadikara Holeyas, I was told that, if a girl 


reaches puberty without being married, she may live 
with any man whom she likes within the caste. If he 
pays later on the bride price of twelve rupees, the 
marriage ceremonies take place, and the issue becomes 
legitimate. On the first day of these ceremonies, the 
bride is taken to the house of her husband-elect. The 
parties of the bride and bridegroom go, accompanied by 
music, to a river or tank, each with four new earthen 
pots, rice, betel, and other things. The pots, which are 
decorated with flowers of the areca palm, are filled with 
water, and set apart in the houses of the contracting 
couple. This ceremonial is known as bringing the god. 
At night the wrist-threads (kankanam), made of black 
and white wool, with turmeric root and iron ring tied on 
them, are placed round the wrists of the bride and bride- 
groom. On the following day, cotton thread is passed 
round the necks of three brass vessels, and also round 
the head of the bridegroom, who sits before the vessels 
with hands folded, and betel leaves stuck between his 
fingers. Married women anoint him with oil and tur- 
meric, and he is bathed. He is then made to stand 
beneath a tree, and a twig of the jambu {Eugenia 
Jamboland) tree is tied to the milk-post. A similar 
ceremony is performed by the bride. The bridegroom 
is conducted to the marriage booth, and he and the bride 
exchange garlands and put gingelly (Sesamum) and 
jirige (cummin) on each other's heads. The bottu is 
passed round to be blessed, and tied by the bridegroom 
on the bride's neck. This is followed by the pouring 
of milk over the hands of the contracting couple. On 
the third day, the wrist-threads are removed, and the 
pots thrown away. 

The Holeyas have a large number of exogamous 
septs, of which the following are examples : — 

Hasubu, pack-sack. 
Malige, jasmine. 
Tene, Setaria italica. 
Chatri, umbrella. 
Mola, hare. 
Jenu, honey. 


Ane, elephant. 

Male, garland. 

Nerali, Eugenia Jambolana. 

Hutta, ant-hill. 

Haiti, milk. 

Kavane, sling. 

It is recorded in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, 
that "351 out of the entire population of 577,166 have 
returned gotras, the names thereof being Harichandra, 
Kali, Yekke, and Karadi. In thus doing, it is evident 
that they are learning to venerate themselves, like others 
in admittedly higher grades of society." 

Some Holeya families are called Hale Makkalu, or 
old children of the Gangadikara Vakkaligas, and have 
to do certain services for the latter, such as carrying the 
sandals of the bridegroom, acting as messenger in con- 
veying news from place to place, carrying fire before 
corpses to the burning-ground, and watching over the 
burning body. It is said that, in the performance of 
these duties, the exogamous septs of the Holeya and 
Vakkaliga must coincide. 

In the Census Report, 1901, Balagai, Bakuda, Begara 
or Byagara, Kiisa (or Uppara) Maila, and Ranivaya 
(belonging to a queen) are recorded as sub-sects of the 
Holeyas. Of these, Balagai is a synonym, indicating 
that the Holeyas belong to the right-hand section. The 
Bakudas are said to resent the application of that name 
to them, and call themselves Aipattukuladavaru, or the 
people of fifty families, presumably from the fact that 
they are divided into fifty balis or families. These balis 
are said to be named after deceased female ancestors. 
Begara or Byagara is a synonym, applied to the Holeyas 
by Kanarese Lingayats. Maila means dirt, and probably 
refers to the washerman section, just as Mailari (washer- 
man) occurs among the Malas. 


The Tulu-speaking Holeyas must not be confounded 
with the Canarese-speaking Holeyas. In South Canara, 
Holeya is a general name applied to the polluting classes, 
Nalkes, Koragas, and the three divisions of Holeyas 
proper, which differ widely from each other in some 
respects. These divisions are — 

(i) Bakuda or Mundala — A stranger, asking a woman if her 
husband is at home, is expected to refer to him as her Bakuda, and 
not as her Mundala. 

(2) Mera or Mugayaru, which is also called Kaipuda. 

(3) Mari or Marimanisaru. 

Of these, the first two sections abstain from beef, and 
consequently consider themselves superior to the Mari 

The Bakudas follow the aliya santana law of succes- 
sion (in the female line), and, if a man leaves any property, 
it goes to his nephew. They will not touch dead cows or 
calves, or remove the placenta when a cow calves. Nor 
will they touch leather, especially in the form of shoes. 
They will not carry cots on which rice sheaves are 
thrashed, chairs, etc., which have four legs, but, when 
ordered to do so, either break off one leg, or add an extra 
leg by tying a stick to the cot or chair. The women 
always wear their cloth in one piece, and are not allowed, 
like other Holeyas, to have it made of two pieces. The 
Bakudas will not eat food prepared or touched by Bili- 
maggas, Jadas, Paravas or Nalkes. The headman is 
called Mukhari. The office is hereditary, and, in some 
places, is, as with the Guttinaya of the Bants, connected 
with his house-site. This being fixed, he should remain at 
that house, or his appointment will lapse, except with the 
general consent of the community to his retaining it. In 
some places, the Mukhari has two assistants, called Jam- 
mana and Bondari, of whom the latter has to distribute 


toddy at assemblies of the caste. On all ceremonial 
occasions, the Mukhari has to be treated with great 
respect, and even an individual who gets possessed by the 
bhutha (devil) has to touch him with his kadasale (sword). 
In cases of adultery, a purificatory ceremony, called gudi 
suddha, is performed. The erring woman's relations 
construct seven small huts, through which she has to 
pass, and they are burned down. The fact of this purifi- 
catory ceremony taking place is usually proclaimed by 
the Bondari, and the saying is that 280 people should 
assemble. They sprinkle water brought from a temple 
or sthana (devil shrine) and cow's urine over the woman 
just before she passes through the huts. A small quantity 
of hair from her head, a few hairs from the eyelids, and 
nails from her fingers are thrown into the huts. In some 
places, the delinquent has to drink a considerable quantity 
of salt-water and cow-dung water. 

Her relatives have to pay a small money fine to the 
village deity. The ordeal of passing through huts is 
also practiced by the Koragas of South Canara. " The 
suggestion," Mr. R. E. Enthoven writes, " seems to be a 
rapid representation of seven existences, the outcaste 
regaining his (or her) status after seven generations have 
passed without further transgression. The parallel sug- 
gested is the law of Manu that seven generations are 
necessary to efface a lapse from the law of endogamous 

The special bhuthas of the Bakudas are Kodababbu 
and Kamberlu (or Kangilu), but Jumadi, Panjurli, and 
Tanimaniya are also occasionally worshipped. For the 
propitiation of Kodababbu, Nalkes are engaged to put 
on the disguise of this bhutha, whereas Bakudas them- 
selves dress up for the propitiation of Kamberlu in 
cocoanut leaves tied round the head and waist. Thus 


disguised, they go about the streets periodically, collect- 
ing alms from door to door. Kamberlu is supposed to 
cause small-pox, cholera, and other epidemic diseases. 

On the day fixed for the betrothal ceremony, among 
the Bakudas, a few people assemble at the home of the 
bride-elect, and the Mukharis of both parties exchange 
betel or beat the palms of their hands, and proclaim that 
all quarrels must cease, and the marriage is to be cele- 
brated. Toddy is distributed among those assembled. 
The bride's party visit the parents of the bridegroom, 
and receive then or subsequently a white cloth, four 
rupees, and three bundles of rice. On the wedding day, 
those who are present seat themselves in front of the 
house where the ceremony is to take place, and are given 
betel to chew. A new mat is spread, and the bride and 
bridegroom stand thereon. If there is a Kodababbu 
sthana in the vicinity, the jewels belonging thereto are 
worn by the bridegroom, who also wears a red cap, 
which is usually kept in the sthana, and carries in his 
hand the sword (kadasale) belonging thereto. The 
Mukhari or Jammana asks if the five groups of people, 
from Barkur, Mangalore, Shivalli, Chithpadi, Mudani- 
dambur, and Udayavara, are present. Five men come 
forward, and announce that this is so, and say " all 
relationship involving prohibited degrees may snap, and 
cease to exist." A tray of rice and a lamp are placed 
before the contracting couple, and those present throw 
rice over their heads. All then go to the toddy shop, 
and have a drink. They then return to the house and 
partake of a meal, at which the bridegroom and his best- 
man (maternal uncle's son) are seated apart. Cooked 
rice is heaped up on a leaf before the bridegroom, and 
five piles of fish curry are placed thereon. First the 
bridegroom eats a portion thereof, and the remainder is 


finished off by the bestman. The bridal couple then 
stand once more on the mat, and the Mukhari joins their 
hands, saying " No unlawful marriage should take place. 
Prohibited relationship must be avoided." He sprinkles 
water from culms of Cynodon Dactylon over the united 

The body of a dead Bakuda is washed with hot water, 
in which mango (Mangifera indicd) bark is steeped. 
The dead are buried. The day for the final death 
ceremonies (bojja) is usually fixed by the Mukhari or 
Jammana. On that day, cooked food is offered to the 
deceased, and all cry " muriyo, muriyo." The son, 
after being shaved, and with his face veiled by a cloth, 
carries cooked rice on his head to a small hut erected for 
the occasion. The food is set down, and all present 
throw some of it into the hut. 

The Mera or Mugayar Holeyas, like the Bakudas, 
abstain from eating beef, and refuse to touch leather in 
any form. They have no objection to carrying four- 
legged articles. Though their mother tongue is Tulu, 
they seem to follow the makkala santana law of inheritance 
(in the male line). Their headman is entitled Kuruneru, 
and he has, as the badge of office, a cane with a silver 
band. The office of headman passes to the son instead 
of to the nephew. Marriage is called Badathana, and 
the details of the ceremony are like those of the Mari 
Holeyas. The dead are buried, and the final death 
ceremonies (bojja or savu) are performed on the twelfth 
or sixteenth day. A feast is given to some members of 
the community, and cooked food offered to the deceased 
at the house and near the grave. 

The Mari or Marimanisaru Holeyas are sometimes 
called Karadhi by the Bakudas. Like certain Malayalam 
castes, the Holeyas have distinct names for their homes 


according to the section. Thus, the huts of the Mari 
Holeyas are called kelu, and those of the Mera Holeyas 
patta. The headmen among the Mari Holeyas are 
called Mulia, Boltiyadi, and Kallali. The office of head- 
man follows in the female line of succession. In addition 
to various bhuthas, such as Panjurli and Jumadi, the 
Mari Holeyas have two special bhuthas, named Kattadhe 
and Kanadhe, whom they regard as their ancestors. At 
times of festivals, these ancestors are supposed to descend 
on earth, and make their presence known by taking pos- 
session of some member of the community. Men who 
are liable to be so possessed are called Dharipuneyi, and 
have the privilege of taking up the sword and bell 
belonging to the bhuthasthana when under possession. 

Marriage among the Mari Holeyas is called pora- 
thavu. At the betrothal ceremony, the headmen of the 
contracting parties exchange betel leaves and areca nuts. 
The bride-price usually consists of two bundles of rice 
and a bundle of paddy (unhusked rice). On the wedding 
day the bridegroom and his party go to the home of the 
bride, taking with them a basket containing five seers of 
rice, two metal bangles, one or two cocoanuts, a comb, 
and a white woman's cloth, which are shown to the 
headman of the bride's party. The two headmen order 
betel leaf and areca nuts to be distributed among those 
assembled. After a meal, a mat is spread in front of the 
hut, and the bride and bridegroom stand thereon. The 
bridegroom has in his hand a sword, and the bride holds 
some betel leaves and areca nuts. Rice is thrown over 
their heads, and presents of money are given to them. 
The two headmen lift up the hands of the contracting 
couple, and they are joined together. The bride is lifted 
up so as to be a little higher than the bridegroom, and 
is taken indoors. The bridegroom follows her, but is 


prevented from entering by his brother-in-law, to whom 
he gives betel leaves and areca nuts. He then makes 
a forcible entrance into the hut. 

When a Mari Holeya girl reaches puberty, she is 
expected to remain within a hut for twelve days, at the 
end of which time the castemen are invited to a feast. 
The girl is seated on a pattern drawn on the floor. At 
the four corners thereof, vessels filled with water are 
placed. The girl's mother holds over her head a plantain 
leaf, and four women belonging to different balis (septs) 
pour water thereon from the vessels. These women 
and the girl then sit down to a meal, and eat off the 
same leaf. 

Among the Mari Holeyas, the dead are usually buried, 
and the final death ceremonies are performed on the 
twelfth day. A pit is dug near the grave, into which an 
image of the deceased, made of rice straw, is put. The 
image is set on fire by his son or nephew. The ashes 
are heaped up, and a rude hut is erected round them by 
fixing three sticks in the ground, and covering them with 
a cloth. Food is offered on a leaf, and the dead person 
is asked to eat it. 

The Kusa Holeyas speak Canarese. They object to 
carrying articles with four legs, unless the legs are 
crossed. They do not eat beef, and will not touch leather. 
They consider themselves to be superior to the other 
sections of Holeyas, and use as an argument that their 
caste name is Uppara, and not Holeya. Why they are 
called Uppara is not clear, but some say that they are 
the same as the Upparas (salt workers) of Mysore, who, 
in South Canara, have descended in the social scale. The 
hereditary occupation of the Upparas is making salt from 
salt earth (ku, earth). The headman of the Kusa 
Holeyas is called Buddivant. As they are disciples of a 



Lingayat priest at the mutt at Kudli in Mysore, they are 
Saivites. Every family has to pay the priest a fee of 
eight annas on the occasion of his periodical visitations. 
The bhuthas specially worshipped by the Kusa Holeyas 
are Masti and Halemanedeyya, but Venkataramana of 
Tirupati is by some regarded as their family deity. 
Marriage is both infant and adult, and widows are 
permitted to remarry, if they have no children. 

At Tumkur, in the Mysore Province, I came across a 
settlement of people called Tigala Holeya, who do not 
intermarry with other Holeyas, and have no exogamous 
septs or house-names. Their cranial measurements 
approach more nearly to those of the dolichocephalic 
Tamil Paraiyans than those of the sub-brachycephalic 
Holeyas ; and it is possible that they are Tamil Paraiyans, 
who migrated, at some distant date, to Mysore. 







Tamil Paraiyan 




Tigala Holeya 








Holodia Gudiya.— A name for the agricultural 
section of the Oriya Gudiyas. 

Holuva (holo, plough). — A synonym of Pentiya, and 
the name of a section of Oriya Brahmans, who plough 
the land. 

Hon.— Hon, Honnu, and Honne, meaning gold, 
have been recorded as gotras or exogamous septs of 
Kurni, Odde, and Kuruba. 

Honne {Calophyllum inophyllum or Pterocarpus 
Marsupium). — An exogamous sept of Halepaik and 


Moger. The Halepaiks sometimes call the sept Sura 

Honnungara (gold ring). — An exogamous sept of 

Huli (tiger). — An exogamous sub-sept of Kap- 

Hullu (grass). — A gotra of Kurni. 

Hunise (tamarind). — An exogamous sub-sept of 

Hutta (ant-hill). — An exogamous sept of Gangadi- 
kara Holeya. 

Huwina (flowers). —An exogamous sept of Odde 
and Vakkaliga. 

Ichcham (date-palm : Phoenix sylvestris). — Ich- 
cham or Ichanjanar is recorded, in the Tanjore Manual, 
as a section of Shanan. The equivalent Ichang occurs 
as a tree or kothu of Kondaiyankottai Maravans. 

Idacheri.— -An occupational name for a section of 
Nayars, who make and sell dairy produce. The word 
corresponds to Idaiyan in the Tamil country. 

Idaiyan.— The Idaiyans are the great pastoral or 
shepherd caste of the Tamil country, but some are land- 
owners, and a few are in Government employ. Those 
whom I examined at Coimbatore were engaged as 
milkmen, shepherds, cultivators, gardeners, cart-drivers, 
shopkeepers, constables, family doctors, and mendicants. 

It is recorded in the Tanjore Manual that " the Rev. 
Mr. Pope says that Ideir are so-called from idei, middle, 
being a kind of intermediate link between the farmers 
and merchants." Mr. Nelson * considers this derivation 

* Manual of the Madura district. 


to be fanciful, and thinks that " perhaps they are so called 
from originally inhabiting the lands which lay midway 
between the hills and the arable lands, the jungly plains, 
suited for pasturage [i.e., the middle land out of the five 
groups of land mentioned in Tamil works, viz., Kurinji, 
Palai, Mullai, Marutam, Neytal]. * The class consists 
of several clans, but they may be broadly divided into 
two sections, the one more thoroughly organised, the 
other retaining most of the essential characteristics of an 
aboriginal race. The first section follow the Vaishnava 
sect, wear the namam, and call themselves Yadavas. 
Those belonging to the second section stick to their 
demon worship, and make no pretensions to a descent from 
the Yadava race. They daub their foreheads with the 
sacred cow-dung ashes, and are regarded, apparently from 
this circumstance alone, to belong to the Saiva sect." 

In the Madras Census Report, 187 1, it is noted that 
milkmen and cowherds appear to hold a social position 
of some importance, and even Brahmans do not disdain 
to drink milk or curds from their hands. Further, the 
Census Superintendent, 1 901, writes that "the Idaiyans 
take a higher social position than they would otherwise 
do, owing to the tradition that Krishna was brought up 
by their caste, and to the fact that they are the only 
purveyors of milk, ghi (clarified butter), etc., and so are 
indispensable to the community. All Brahmans, except 
the most orthodox, will accordingly eat butter-milk and 
butter brought by them. In some places they have the 
privilege of breaking the butter-pot on the Gokulashtami, 
or Krishna's birthday, and get a new cloth and some 
money for doing it. They will eat in the houses of 
Vellalas, Pallis, and Nattamans." 

* Madras Census Report, 1891. 


The Idaiyans claim that Timma Raja, the prime 
minister of Krishna Deva Raya of Vijayanagar, who 
executed various works in the Chingleput district, was 
an Idaiyan by caste. 

The Idaiyans have returned a large number of 
divisions, of which the following may be noted : — 

Kalkatti and Pasi. The women, contrary to the 
usual Tamil custom, have black beads in their tali-string. 
The practice is apparently due to the influence of Telugu 
Brahman purohits, as various Telugu castes have glass 
beads along with the bottu (marriage badge). In like 
manner, the married Pandamutti Palli women wear a 
necklace of black beads. According to a legend, pasi is 
a pebble found in rivers, from which beads are made. 
A giant came to kill Krishna when he was playing with 
the shepherd boys on the banks of a river. He fought 
the giant with these pebbles, and killed him. 

Pal, milk. Corresponds to the Halu (milk) division 
of the Canarese Kuruba shepherd caste. 

Pendukkumekki, denoting those who are subservient 
to their women. A man, on marriage, joins his wife's 
family, and he succeeds to the property, not of his father, 
but of his father-in-law. 

Siviyan or Sivala. An occupational name, meaning 

Sangukatti, or those who tie the conch or chank shell 
{Turbinella rapd). It is narrated that Krishna wanted 
to marry Rukmani, whose family insisted on marrying 
her to Sishupalan. When the wedding was about to 
take place, Krishna carried off Rukmani, and placed a 
bangle made of chank shell on her wrist. 

Samban, a name of Siva. Most members of this 
division put on the sacred ashes as a sectarian mark. It 
is said that the Yadavas were in the habit of making 


offerings to Devendra, but Krishna wanted them to 
worship him. With the exception of a few Yadavas and 
Paraiyans who were also employed in grazing cattle, 
all the shepherds refused to do so. It is stated that 
" in ancient times, men of the Idaiyan caste ranked 
only a little above Paraiyans, and that the Idaicheri, or 
Idaiyan suburb, was always situated close to the Parai- 
cheri, or Paraiyan's suburb, in every properly constituted 
village." * 

Pudunattu or Puthukkanattar, meaning people of the 
new country. The Idaiyans claim that, when Krishna 
settled in Kishkindha, he peopled it with members of 
their caste. 

Perun (big) Tali, and Siru (small) Tali, indicating 
those whose married women wear a large or small tali. 

Panjaram or Pancharamkatti. The name is derived 
from the peculiar gold ornament called panjaram or 
pancharam shaped like a many-rayed sun, and having 
three dots on it, which is worn by widows. It is said 
that in this division " widow marriage is commonly prac- 
ticed, because Krishna used to place a similar ornament 
round the necks of the Idaiyan widows of whom he became 
enamoured, to transform them from widows into married 
women, to whom pleasure was not forbidden, and that this 
sub-division is the result of these amours." t 

Maniyakkara. Derived from mani, a bell, such as is 
tied round the necks of cattle, sheep and goats. 

Kalla. Most numerous in the area inhabited by the 
Kalian caste. Possibly an offshoot of this caste, composed 
of those who have taken to the occupation of shepherds. 
Like the Kalians, this sub-division has exogamous septs 
or kilais, e.g., Deva (god), Vendhan (king). 

* Manual of the Madura district. f Madras Census Report, 19OI. 

II-23 B 


Sholia. Territorial name denoting inhabitants of the 
Chola country. 

Anaikombu, or elephant tusk, which was the weapon 
used by Krishna and the Yadavas to kill the giant 

Karutthakadu, black cotton country. A sub-division 
found mostly in Madura and Tinnevelly, where there is a 
considerable tract of black cotton soil. 

The Perumal Madukkarans or Perumal Erudukkarans 
(see Gangeddu), who travel about the country exhibiting 
performing bulls, are said to belong to the Pu (flower) 
Idaiyan section of the Idaiyan caste. This is so named 
because the primary occupation thereof was, and in some 
places still is, making garlands for temples. 

In the Gazetteer of the Madura district, it is recorded 
that " Podunattu (Pudunattu ?) Idaiyans have a tradition 
that they originally belonged to Tinnevelly, but fled to 
this district secretly one night in a body in the time of 
Tirumala Nayakkan, because the local chief oppressed 
them. Tirumala welcomed them, and put them under 
the care of the Kalian headman Pinnai Devan, decreeing 
that, to ensure that this gentleman and his successors 
faithfully observed the charge, they should always be 
appointed by an Idaiyan. That condition is observed to 
this day. In this sub-division a man has the same right 
to marry his paternal aunt's daughter as is possessed by 
the Kalians. But, if the woman's age is much greater 
than the boy's, she is usually married instead to his cousin, 
or some one else on that side of the family. A Brah- 
man officiates at weddings, and the sacred fire is used, but 
the bridegroom's sister ties the tali (marriage badge). 
Divorce and the remarriage of widows are prohibited. 
The dead, except infants, are burnt. Caste affairs are 
settled by a headman called the Nattanmaikaran, who is 


assisted by an accountant and a peon. All three are 
elected. The headman has the management of the caste 
fund, which is utilised in the celebration of festivals on 
certain days in some of the larger temples of the dis- 
trict. Among these Podunattus, an uncommon rule of 
inheritance is in force. A woman who has no male 
issue at the time of her husband's death has to return 
his property to his brother, father, or maternal uncle, but 
is allotted maintenance, the amount of which is fixed by 
a caste panchayat (council). Among the Valasu and 
Pendukkumekki sub-divisions, another odd form of main- 
tenance subsists. A man's property descends to his 
sons-in-law, who live with him, and not to his sons. 
The sons merely get maintenance until they are married." 

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Pondan or 
Pogandan is recorded as a sub-caste of Idaiyans, who are 
palanquin-bearers to the Zamorin of Calicut. In this 
connection, it is noted by Mr. K. Kannan Nayar * that 
" among the Konar (cowherds) of Poondurai near Erode 
(in the Coimbatore district), who, according to tradition, 
originally belonged to the same tribe as the Gopas living 
in the southern part of Kerala, and now forming a section 
of the Nayars, the former matrimonial customs were 
exactly the same as those of the Nayars. They, too, 
celebrated tali-kettu kalyanam, and, like the Nayars, did 
not make it binding on the bride and bridegroom of the 
ceremony to live as husband and wife. They have now, 
however, abandoned the custom, and have made the 
tying of the tali the actual marriage ceremony." 

The typical panchayat (village council) system exists 
among the Idaiyans, and the only distinguishing feature 
is the existence of a headman, called Kithari or Kilari, 

* Malabar Quart. Review, II, 1903. 


whose business it is to look after the sheep of the village, 
to arrange for penning them in the fields. In some 
places the headman is called Ambalakkaran. In bygone 
days, those who were convicted of adultery were tied to 
a post, and beaten. 

In some places, when a girl reaches puberty, her 
maternal uncle, or his sons, build a hut with green 
cocoanut leaves, which she occupies for sixteen days, 
when purificatory ceremonies are performed. 

The marriage ceremonies vary according to locality, 
and the following details of one form therefore, as carried 
out at Coimbatore, may be cited. When a marriage 
between two persons is contemplated, a red and white 
flower, tied up in separate betel leaves, are thrown before 
the idol at a temple. A little child is told to pick up 
one of the leaves, and, if she selects the one containing 
the white flower, the omens are considered auspicious, 
and the marriage will be arranged. On the day of the 
betrothal, the future bridegroom's father and other rela- 
tions go to the girl's house with presents of a new cloth, 
fruits, and ornaments. The bride price (pariyam) is paid, 
and betel exchanged. The bridegroom-elect goes to the 
girl's cousins (maternal uncle's sons), who have a right 
to marry her, and presents them with four annas and 
betel. The acceptance of these is a sign that they con- 
sent to the marriage. On the marriage day, the bride- 
groom plants the milk-post, after it has been blessed by 
a Brahman purohit, and is shaved by a barber. The 
bride and her female relations fetch some earth, and a 
platform is made out of it in the marriage pandal (booth). 
The Brahman makes fire (homam), and places a cowdung 
Pillayar (Ganesa) in the pandal. The bride then husks 
some rice therein. The relations of the bride and bride- 
groom fetch from the potter's house seven pots called 


adukupanai, two large pots, called arasanipanai, and 
seven earthen trays, and place them in front of the plat- 
form. The pots are filled with water, and a small bit of 
gold is placed in each. The bridegroom goes to a Pillayar 
shrine, and, on his return, the bride's brother washes his 
feet, and puts rings on his second toes. The kankanams 
(wrist-threads) are tied on the wrists of the contracting 
couple, and the bridegroom takes his seat within the 
pandal, to which the bride is carried in the arms of one 
of her maternal uncles, while another carries a torch light 
placed on a mortar. The bride takes her seat by the 
side of the bridegroom, and the light is set in front of 
them. The tali is taken round to be blessed by those 
assembled, and handed to the bridegroom, who ties it 
on the bride's neck. The couple then put a little earth 
in each of the seven trays, and sow therein nine kinds 
of grain. Two vessels, containing milk and whey, are 
placed before them, and the relations pour a little thereof 
overj their heads. The right hand of the bridegroom 
is placed on the left hand of the bride, and their hands 
are tied together by one of the bride's maternal uncle's 
sons. The bride is then carried into the house in the 
arms of an elder brother of the bridegroom. At the 
threshold she is stopped by the maternal uncle's sons, 
who may beat the man who is carrying her. The bride- 
groom pays them each four annas, and he and the bride 
are allowed to enter the house. On the night of the 
wedding day, they are shut up in a room. During the 
following days the pots are worshipped. On the seventh 
day, the ends of the cloths of the newly married couple 
are tied together, and they bathe in turmeric water. The 
wrist-threads are removed, they rub oil over each other's 
heads, and bathe in a tank. The bride serves food to 
the bridegroom, and their relations eat off the same leaf, 


to indicate the union between the two families. Into one 
of the large pots a gold and silver ring, and into the 
other an iron style and piece of palm leaf are dropped. 
The couple perform the pot-searching ceremony, and 
whichever gets hold of the gold ring or style is re- 
garded as the more clever of the two. The bridegroom 
places his right foot, and the bride her left foot on a 
grindstone, and they look at the star Arundathi. The 
stone represents Ahalliya, the wife of the sage Gautama, 
who was cursed by her husband for her misconduct with 
Indra, and turned into a stone, whereas Arundathi was 
the wife of Vasishta and a model of chastity. The newly 
married couple, by placing their feet on the stone, indi- 
cate their intention of checking unchaste desires, and by 
looking at Arundathi, of remaining faithful to each other. 
The bride decorates a small grindstone with a cloth and 
ornaments, and takes it round to all her relations who 
are present, and who bless her with a hope that she will 
have many children. 

In the Marava country, a grown-up Idaiyan girl is 
sometimes married to a boy of ten or twelve. Among 
some Idaiyans, it is customary for the tali to be tied by 
the sister of the bridegroom, and not by the bridegroom, 
who must not be present when it is done. 

It is said that, in some places, like the Gollas, when 
an Idaiyan bridegroom sets out for the house of his bride, 
he is seized by his companions, who will not release him 
till he has paid a piece of gold. In the Madura Manual 
it is noted that "at an Idaiyan wedding, on the third day, 
when the favourite amusement of sprinkling turmeric- 
water over the guests is concluded, the whole party 
betake themselves to the village tank (pond). A friend 
of the bridegroom brings a hoe and a basket, and the 
young husband fills three baskets with earth from the 


bottom of the tank, while the wife takes them away, and 
throws the earth behind. They then say ' We have dug 
a ditch for charity.' This practice may probably be 
explained by remembering that, in arid districts, where 
the Idaiyans often tend their cattle, the tank is of the 
greatest importance." 

It is said that the Siviyan and Pendukkumekki sub- 
divisions take low rank, as the remarriage of widows is 
freely permitted among them. In the Ramnad territory 
of the Madura djstrict, the marriage of widows is attri- 
buted to compulsion by a Zamindar. According to the 
story, the Zamindar asked an Idaiyan whether he would 
marry a widow. The reply was that widows are aruthu- 
kattadhavar, i.e., women who will not tie the tali string 
again, after snapping it (on the husband's decease). This 
was considered impertinent by the Zamindar, as marriage 
of widows was common among the Maravars. To 
compel the Idaiyans to resort to widow marriage, he took 
advantage of the ambiguity of the word aruthukatta- 
dhavar, which would also mean those who do not tie up 
in a bundle after cutting or reaping. At the time of the 
harvest season, the Zamindar sent his servants to the 
Idaiyans with orders that they were not to tie up the 
rice plants in sheaves. This led to severe monetary 
loss, and the Idaiyans consented reluctantly to widow 

On the death of a married Idaiyan, at Coimbatore, 
the corpse is placed in a seated posture. A measure of 
rice, a lighted lamp, and a cocoanut are placed near 
it, and burning fire-wood is laid at the door of the house. 
When the relations and friends have arrived, the body 
is removed from the house, and placed in a pandal, sup- 
ported behind by a mortar. The male relations put on 
the sacred thread, and each brings a pot of water from 


a tank. The widow rubs oil over the head of the corpse, 
and some one, placing a little oil in the hands thereof, 
rubs it over her head. On the way to the burning- 
ground, a barber carries a fire-brand and a pot, and 
a washerman carries the mat, cloths, and other articles 
used by the deceased. When the idukadu, a spot made 
to represent the shrine of Arichandra who is in charge of 
the burial or burning ground, is reached, the polluted 
articles are thrown away, and the bier is placed on the 
ground. A Paraiyan makes a cross-mark at the four 
corners of the bier, and the son, who is chief mourner, 
places a small coin on three of the marks, leaving out 
the one at the north-east corner. The Paraiyan takes 
these coins and tears a bit of cloth from the winding-sheet, 
which is sent to the widow. At the burning-ground, 
the relations place rice, water, and small coins in the 
mouth of the corpse. The coins are the perquisite of 
the Paraiyan. The son, who is clean-shaved, carries 
a pot of water on his shoulder thrice round the pyre, 
and, at each turn, the barber makes a hole in it with 
a chank shell, when the head is reached. Finally the 
pot is broken near the head. The sacred threads are 
thrown by those who wear them on the pyre, and the 
son sets fire to it, and goes away without looking back. 
The widow meanwhile has broken her tali string, and 
thrown it into a vessel of milk, which is set on the 
spot where the deceased breathed his last. The son, 
on his return home after bathing, steps across a pestle 
placed at the threshold. Arathi (wave offering) is per- 
formed, and he worships a lighted lamp within the house. 
On the following day, rice and Sesbania grandiflora are 
cooked, and served to the relatives by the widow's 
brothers. Next day, milk, ghi (clarified butter), curds, 
tender cocoanuts, nine kinds of grain, water, and other 


articles required for worship, are taken to the burning- 
ground. The smouldering ashes are extinguished with 
water, and the fragments of the bones are collected, and 
placed on a leaf. A miniature plough is made, and the 
spot on which the body was burned is ploughed, and 
the nine kinds of grain are sown. On his return home, 
a turban is placed on the head of the son who acted 
as chief mourner by his maternal uncles. A new cloth 
is folded, and on it a betel leaf is placed, which is 
worshipped for sixteen days. On the sixteenth day, a 
Brahman makes a human figure with holy grass, which 
has to be worshipped by the chief mourner not less 
than twenty-five times, and he must bathe between each 
act of worship. The bones are then carried in a new 
earthen pot, and floated on a stream. At night, food 
is cooked, and, with a new cloth, worshipped. Rice is 
cooked at the door. A cock is tied to a sacrificial post, 
called kazhukumaram, set up outside the house, to which 
the rice is offered. One end of a thread is tied to 
the post, and the other end to a new cloth, which is 
worshipped inside the house. The thread is watched 
till it shakes, and then broken. The door is closed, 
and the cock is stuck on the pointed tip of the post, 
and killed. An empty car is carried in procession 
through the streets, and alms are given to beggars. A 
widow should remain gosha (in seclusion) for twelve 
months after her husband's death. When a grown-up, 
but unmarried male or female dies, a human figure, made 
out of holy grass, is married to the corpse, and some 
of the marriage rites are performed. 

The Idaiyans are Vaishnavites, and the more civilised 
among them are branded like Vaishnava Brahmans. 
Saturday is considered a holy day. Their most import- 
ant festival is Krishna Jayanti, or Sri Jayanti, in honour 


of Krishna's birthday. They show special reverence for 
the vessels used in dairy operations. 

The proverb that the sense of an Idaiyan is on the 
back of his neck, for it was there that he received the 
blows, refers to " the story of the shepherd entering the 
gate of his house with a crook placed horizontally on his 
shoulders, and rinding himself unable to get in, and his 
being made able to do so by a couple of blows on his 
back, and the removal of the crook at the same time. 
Another proverb is that there is neither an Andi among 
Idaiyans, nor a Tadan among the potters. The Andi is 
always a Saivite beggar, and, the Idaiyans being always 
Vaishnavites, they can never have in their midst a 
beggar of the Saivite sect, or vice versa. Being ex- 
tremely stupid, whenever any dispute arises among 
them, they can never come to any definite settlement, 
or, as the proverb says, the disputes between Idaiyans 
are never easily settled. Keeping and rearing cattle, 
grazing and milking them, and living thereby, are their 
allotted task in life, and so they are never good agri- 
culturists. This defect is alluded to in the proverb that 
the field watered by the Idaiyan, or by a member of the 
Palli caste, must ever remain a waste." * 

Other proverbs, quoted by the Rev. H. Jensen, t are 
as follows : — 

The shepherd can get some fool to serve him. 

Like a shepherd who would not give anything, but showed an 

ewe big with young. 
The shepherd destroyed half, and the fool half. 

In 1904, an elementary school for Idaiyans, called the 
Yadava school, was established at Madura. 

* Madras Mail, 1904. 

f Classified Collection of Tamil Proverbs, 1897, 


The usual title of the Idaiyans is Konan or Kon 
meaning King, but, in the Census Report, 1901, the 
titles Pillai and Kariyalan are also recorded. In the 
Census Report, 1891, Idaiya is given as a sub-division 
of Vakkaliga ; and, in the Salem Manual, Idaiyan appears 
as a synonym of Shanan. 

For the following note on the Idaiyans who have 
settled in Travancore, I am indebted to Mr. N. Subra- 
mani Aiyar. They consist of two well-defined sections, 
namely, the Tamil-speaking Idaiyans, who are but recent 
immigrants, and largely found in Tevala, Agastisvaram 
and Shenkotta, and the Malayalam-speaking branch, who 
are early settlers residing chiefly in Kartikapalli and 
other taluks of Central Travancore. The Idaiyans are 
not largely found in Travancore, because a branch of 
the indigenous Sudra community, the Idacheri Nayars, 
are engaged in the same occupation. They are divided 
into two classes, viz., Kangayan (shepherds) and Puvan- 
dans, who neither interdine nor intermarry. The latter 
appear to be divided into four classes, Pasi, Gopalan, 
Nambi, and Valayitayan. Puvandan is another form of 
the word Pondan, which means a palanquin-bearer. It 
is well known that, in the Tamil country, this was one of 
the duties of the Idaiyans, as is evident from a sub- 
division called Sivi or Siviyar (palanquin) existing among 
them. In the early settlement records of Travancore, 
they are referred to as Sibis. Many fancy, though 
incorrectly, that the word means one who collects flowers. 
As the Sibis were experts in palanquin-bearing, they 
must have been brought from the Tamil country to serve 
the mediaeval Rajas. At the present day, besides pur- 
suing their traditional occupation, they also engage in 
agriculture and trade. The position of the Puvandans in 
society is not low. They are entitled to the services of 


the Brahman's washerman and barber, and they may- 
enter temples, and advance as far as the place to which 
Nayars go, except in some parts of Central Travancore. 
They are flesh-eaters, and the drinking of intoxicating 
liquor is not prohibited. On ceremonial occasions, 
women wear the Tamil Idaiya dress, while at other times 
they adopt the attire of Nayar women. Their ornaments 
are foreign, and clearly indicate that they are a Tamil 
caste. The marriage badge is called sankhu tali, and a 
small conch-shaped ornament forms its most conspicu- 
ous feature. Besides the ordinary Hindu deities, they 
worship Matam, Yakshi, and Maruta. At weddings, 
the Idaiyan bridegroom holds a sword in his left hand, 
while he takes hold of the bride by the right hand. 
Funeral ceremonies are supervised by a barber, who 
officiates as priest. Corpses are either burnt or buried. 
Though they appear to observe only eleven days' death 
pollution, they cannot enter a temple until the expiry 
of sixteen days. An anniversary ceremony in memory of 
the deceased is performed on the new-moon day in the 
month of Karkatakam (July-August), and, on this day, 
most members of the caste go to Varkalai to perform the 
rite. Many purely Tamil names are still preserved in the 
caste, such as Tambi, Chami, Bhagavati, and Chattu. 

Idakottu (those who break). — An exogamous sept of 
Oddes, who, during their work as navvies, break stones. 

Idangai (left-hand). — Recorded, at times of census, 
as a division of Devadasis, who do service for castes 
belonging to the left-hand section. 

Idiga.— The Telugu toddy-drawers, whose hereditary 
occupation is the extraction of the juice of the date and 
palmyra palms, go by different names in different 
localities. Those, for example, who live in the Salem, 
North Arcot and Chingleput districts, are called Idigas 

3^7 IDIGA 

or Indras. In the Northern Circars and the Nellore 
district, they are known as Gamallas or Gamandlas, and 
in the Cuddapah district as Asilis. 

It is recorded, in the North Arcot Manual, that 
" Idiga is one of the toddy-drawing castes of the Teluo-u 
country, the name being derived from Telugu Idchu, to 
draw. The Idigas are supposed to be a branch of the 
Balija tribe, separated on account of their occupation. 
They are chiefly Vaishnavites, having Satanis as their 
priests. They are divided into two classes, the Dandu 
(army) * Idigas and the Balija Idigas, of whom the 
former used originally to distil arrack, but, now that the 
manufacture is a monopoly, they usually sell it. The 
Balija Idigas extract toddy, the juice of the palm tree. 
They differ from the Shanans in some of their profes- 
sional customs, for, while the Tamilians in climbing tie 
their knives behind them, the Telugus tie them on the 
right thigh. Tamilian drawers extract the juice from 
palmyras and cocoanuts, but rarely from the date, and the 
Telugus from the palmyras and dates, but never from 
cocoanuts. The chief object of their worship is Yellamma, 
the deity who presides over toddy and liquor. On every 
Sunday, the pots containing liquor are decorated with 
flowers, saffron, etc., and offerings are made to them." 

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, it is stated that 
" it is said that the Idigas are the descendants of Balijas 
from Rajahmundry in Godavari district, and that their 
occupation separated them into a distinct caste. They 
are divided into two endogamous sections called either 
Dandu and Palli, or Patha (old) and Kotta (new). The 
headman of the caste is called Gaudu. They employ 
Brahmans as purohits for their ceremonies, and these 

* The Idigas are said to have been formerly employed as soldiers under the 

IDIGA 368 

Brahmans are received on terms of equality by other 
Brahmans. They bury their dead, and observe pollution 
for twelve days, during which they abstain from eating 
flesh. The consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited, 
and is severely punished by the headman of the caste. 
They eat with all Balijas, except the Gazulu section. 
Their titles are Aiya, Appa, and Gaudu." 

It is noted by Mr. F. Fawcett that " in the northern 
districts, among the Telugu population, the toddy-drawers 
use a ladder about eight or nine feet in length, which is 
placed against the tree, to avoid climbing a third or fourth 
of it. While in the act of climbing up or down, they 
make use of a wide band, which is passed round the body 
at the small of the back, and round the tree. This band 
is easily fastened with a toggle and eye. The back is 
protected by a piece of thick soft leather. It gives great 
assistance in climbing, which it makes easy. All over 
the southernmost portion of the peninsula, among the 
Shanans and Tiyans, the ladder and waist-band are 
unknown. They climb up and down with their hands 
and arms, using only a soft grummel of coir (cocoanut 
fibre) to keep the feet near together." 

The Idigas claim to be descended from Vyasa, the 
traditional compiler of the Mahabharata. In a note by 
Mr. F. R. Hemingway on the Idigas of the Godavari 
district, they are said to worship a deity, to whom they 
annually offer fowls on New Year's day, and make daily 
offerings of a few drops of toddy from the first pot taken 
from the tree. In this district they are commonly called 

The insigne of the Idigas, as recorded at Conjeeveram, 
is a ladder.* 

• J. S. F. Mackenzie, Ind. Ant., IV, 1875. 


Idiya (pounder). — Recorded, in the Travancore 
Census Report, 1901, as a division of Konkani Sudras. 
The Idiyans prepare rice in a special manner. Paddy is 
soaked in water, and roasted over a fire. While hot, it 
is placed in a mortar, and pounded with a pestle. This 
rice is called avil, which is said to be largely used as a 
delicacy in Travancore, and to be employed in certain 
religious ceremonies. 

The Idiyans are stated to have left their native land 
near Cochin, and settled in Travancore at the invitation of 
a former sovereign. On arrival in the land of their 
adoption, they were given, free of tax, cocoanut gardens 
and rice land. In return, they were required to supply, 
free of charge, the palace of the Maharajah and the 
temple of Sri Padmanabhaswami at Trivandrum with 
as much beaten rice (avil) as might be required from 
time to time. 

Iga (fly). — An exogamous sept of Mutracha. The 
equivalent Igala occurs as an exogamous sept of Yanadi. 

Ilai (leaf). — Ilai or Ele has been recorded as a sub- 
division of Tigalas and Toreyas who cultivate the betel 
vine {Piper betle). Elai Vaniyan occurs as a synonym 
of Senaikkudaiyans, who are betel leaf sellers in Tinne- 

Ilaiyattakudi. — A sub-division of Nattukottai 

Ilakutiyan. — Recorded, in the Travancore Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as a sub-division of Nayar. 

Ilamagan.— The Ilamagans are described by Mr. 
Francis * as "a cultivating caste found chiefly in the 
Zamindari taluk of Tiruppattur in Madura. The word 
literally means a young man, but the young is 

* Madras Census Report, 1901. 


interpreted by other castes in the sense of inferior. One 
says that it is made up of the sons of Vallamban females 
and Vellala males, another that it is a mixture of out- 
casted Valaiyans, Kalians and Maravans, and a third that 
it is descended from illegitimate children of the Vellalas 
and Pallis. Like the Kalians and Valaiyans, the members 
of the caste stretch the lobes of their ears, and leave their 
heads unshaven. The caste is divided into two or three 
endogamous sections of territorial origin. They do not 
employ Brahmans as purohits ; their widows may marry 
again ; their dead are usually buried ; and they will eat 
pork, mutton, fowls, and fish. They are thus not high 
in the social scale, and are, in fact, about on a par with the 
Kalians. The headmen of the caste are called Ambalam." 
It is suggested, in the Census Report, 1891, that, from 
the fact that Ilamagan appears as a sub-division of the 
Maravans, it may perhaps be inferred that the two castes 
are closely allied. 

Ilampi.— Recorded, in the Travancore Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as a sub-division of Nayar. 

I lay at u. — See Elayad. 

Ilia (of a house). — An exogamous sept of Yanadi. 

1 11am .—Defined by Mr. Wigram * as meaning the 
house of an ordinary Nambudri Brahman. It is recorded, 
in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a sub-division 
of Nayar. The name Illam Vellala has been assumed by 
some Panikkans in the Tamil country, whose exogamous 
septs are called Illam. In Travancore, Ilakkar or Illathu, 
meaning those attached to Brahman houses, is said to be 
an occupational sub-division of Nayars. Ilakkar further 
occurs as an exogamous sept of Mala Arayans, known as 
the Three Thousand. 

* Malabar Law and Custom. 

371 IRANI 

Illuvellani.— The name, derived from illu, house, 
and vellani, those who do not go out, of a sub-division of 
Kammas, whose wives are kept gosha (in seclusion). 

Inaka Mukku Bhatrazu.— Beggars attached to 
Padma Sales. 

Inangan.— 6>£ Enangan. 

Ina Pulaya.— A sub-division of Pulayans of Travan- 

India (house). — An exogamous sept of Chenchu and 

Indra.— See Idiga. 

Inichi (squirrel). — A gotra of Kurni. 

Inravar.— A Tamil form of Indra. 

Ippi (Bassia longifolia : mahua). — An exogamous 
sept of Panta Reddi. Members of the Ippala gotra 
of the Besthas may not touch or use the ippa (or ippi) 

Iranderudhu (two bullocks). — A sub-division of 
Vaniyans, who use two bullocks for their oil-mills. 

Irani (earthen vessel used at marriages). — A gotra 
of Kurni. 

Irani.— A territorial name, meaning Persian, of the 
Shiah section of the Moghal tribe of Muhammadans. 
The Iranis or Beluchis are described by Mr. Paupa Rao 
Naidu * as a troublesome nomad tribe " committing 
crime all over India openly from the houses and shops of 
villages and towns, mostly in broad daylight, with im- 
punity, and escaping punishment except in rare cases. 
Their ostensible profession is merchandise, dealing in the 
following articles : — ponies, knives, scissors, padlocks, 
false stones, false pearls, trinkets of several kinds, toys, 
beads, quicksilver, and false coins of different kinds. 

* Criminal Tribes of India, No. Ill, Madras, 1907. 


Their camp generally consists of a few small tents, a 
few ponies, pack saddles to secure their culinary uten- 
sils, their dirty clothes, the leather or gunny bags contain- 
ing their articles of merchandise, a few fighting cocks, 
and cages of birds. They are very fond of cock fighting, 
even on wagers of 10 to 50 rupees on each. They train 
these cocks specially brought up to fight." For infor- 
mation concerning the criminal methods of the Iranis, 
I would refer the reader to Mr. Paupa Rao Naidu's 
account thereof. 

Iranyavarma.— The name of one of the early Pallava 
kings, returned at times of census as a caste name by 
some wealthy Pallis, who also gave themselves the title 
of Solakanar, or descendants of Chola Kings. 

Irattai Sekkan.— A sub-division of Vaniyans, who 
use two bullocks for their oil-mills. 

Iraya.— A name for Cherumans, in Malabar, who 
are permitted to come as far as the eaves (ira) of their 
employers' houses. 

Irchakkollan (timber sawyer). — A synonym, in 
Travancore, of Tacchan (carpenter) Kammalan. 

Irkuli.— Irkuli or Irangolli Vellala, said to mean 
Vellalas who killed dampness, is a name assumed by 
some Vannans. 

Irpina (comb). — An exogamous sept of Kamma. 

Irulas of the Nilgiris. In the Kotagiri bazaar, 
which is an excellent hunting-ground for the anthro- 
pologist, may be seen gathered together on market-day 
Kotas, Badagas, Kanarese, Irulas, Kurumbas, and an 
occasional Toda from the Kodanad mand. A tribal 
photograph was taken there, with the result that a depu- 
tation subsequently waited on me with a petition to the 
effect that " We, the undersigned, beg to submit that 
your honour made botos of us, and has paid us nothing. 

373 IRULA 

We, therefore, beg you to do this common act of justice." 
The deputation was made happy with a pourboire. 

In my hunt after Irulas, which ended in an attack 
of malarial fever, it was necessary to invoke the assistance 
and proverbial hospitality of various planters. On one 
occasion news reached me that a gang of Irulas, collected 
for my benefit under a promise of substantial remunera- 
tion, had arrived at a planter's bungalow, whither I 
proceeded. The party included a man who had been 
11 wanted " for some time in connection with the shooting 
of an elephant on forbidden ground. He, suspecting me 
of base designs, refused to be measured, on the plea that 
he was afraid the height-measuring standard was the 
gallows. Nor would he let me take his photograph, 
fearing (though he had never heard of Bertillonage) lest 
it should be used for the purpose of criminal identifica- 
tion. Unhappily a mischievous rumour had been circu- 
lated that I had in my train a wizard Kurumba, who would 
bewitch the Irulas, in order that I might abduct them 
(for what purpose was not stated). 

As the Badagas are the fairest, so the Irulas are the 
darkest-skinned of the Nllgiri tribes, on some of whom, 
as has been said, charcoal would leave a white mark. 
The name Irula, in fact, means darkness or blackness 
(irul), whether in reference to the dark jungles in which 
the Irulas, who have not become domesticated by work- 
ing as contractors or coolies on planters' estates, dwell, 
or to the darkness of their skin, is doubtful. Though the 
typical Irula is dark-skinned and platyrhine, I have noted 
some who, as the result of contact metamorphosis, pos- 
sessed skins of markedly paler hue, and leptorhine noses. 

The language of the Irulas is a corrupt form of Tamil. 
In their religion they are worshippers of Vishnu under 
the name of Rangasvami, to whom they do puja 

IRULA 374 

(worship) at their own rude shrines, or at the Hindu 
temple at Karaimadai, where Brahman priests officiate. 
" An Irula pujari," Breeks writes, * " lives near the 
Irula temples, and rings a bell when he performs puja to 
the gods. He wears the Vishnu mark on his forehead. 
His office is hereditary, and he is remunerated by offer- 
ings of fruit and milk from Irula worshippers. Each 
Irula village pays about two annas to the pujari about 
May or June. They say that there is a temple at 
Kallampalla in the Sattiyamangalam taluk, north of 
Rangasvami's peak. This is a Siva temple, at which 
sheep are sacrificed. The pujari wears the Siva mark. 
They don't know the difference between Siva and Vishnu. 
At Kallampalla temple is a thatched building, containing 
a stone called Mariamma, the well-known goddess of 
small-pox, worshipped in this capacity by the Irulas. A 
sheep is led to this temple, and those who offer the 
sacrifice sprinkle water over it, and cut its throat. The 
pujari sits by, but takes no part in the ceremony. The 
body is cut up, and distributed among the Irulas present, 
including the pujari." 

In connection with the shrine on Rangasvami peak, 
the following note is recorded in the Gazetteer of the 
Nilgiris. " It is the most sacred hill on all the plateau. 
Hindu legend says that the god Rangasvami used to 
live at Karaimadai on the plains between Mettupalaiyam 
and Coimbatore, but quarrelled with his wife, and so 
came and lived here alone. In proof of the story, two 
footprints on the rock not far from Arakod village below 
the peak are pointed out. This, however, is probably an 
invention designed to save the hill folk the toilsome 
journey to Rangasvami's car festival at Karaimadai, 

* Primitive Tribes of the Nilgiris. 


375 IRULA 

which used once to be considered incumbent upon them. 
In some places, the Badagas and Kotas have gone even 
further, and established Rangasvami Bettus of their own, 
handy for their own particular villages. On the real 
Rangasvami peak are two rude walled enclosures sacred 
to the god Ranga and his consort, and within these are 
votive offerings (chiefly iron lamps and the notched 
sticks used as weighing machines), and two stones to 
represent the deities. The hereditary pujari is an Irula, 
and, on the day fixed by the Badagas for the annual feast, 
he arrives from his hamlet near Nandipuram, bathes in a 
pool below the summit, and marches to the top shouting 
' Govinda ! Govinda ' ! The cry is taken up with wild 
enthusiasm by all those present, and the whole crowd, 
which includes Badagas, Irulas, and Kurumbas, sur- 
rounds the enclosures, while the Irula priest invokes the 
deities by blowing his conch and beating his drum, and 
pours oblations over, and decorates with flowers, the 
two stones which represent them. That night, two stone 
basins on the summit are filled with ghee and lighted, and 
the glare is visible for miles around. The ceremonies 
close with prayers for good rain and fruitfulness among 
the flocks and herds, a wild dance by the Irula, and the 
boiling (called pongal, the same word as pongal the Tamil 
agricultural feast) of much rice in milk. About a mile 
from Arakod is an overhanging rock called the kodai-kal 
or umbrella stone, under which is found a whitish clay. 
This clay is used by the Irulas for making the Vaishnava 
marks on their foreheads at this festival." 

The following account of an Irula temple festival is 
given by Harkness. * "The hair of the men, as well 
as of the women and children, was bound up in a fantastic 

* Description of a singular Aboriginal Race inhabiting the Neilgherry Hills, 

IRULA 2>7& 

manner with wreaths of plaited straw. Their necks, ears, 
and ankles were decorated with ornaments formed of the 
same material, and they carried little dried gourds, in 
which nuts or small stones had been inserted. They rattled 
them as they moved, and, with the rustling of their rural 
ornaments, gave a sort of rhythm to their motion. The 
dance was performed in front of a little thatched shed, 
which, we learnt, was their temple. When it was con- 
cluded, they commenced a sacrifice to their deity, or 
rather deities, of a he-goat and three cocks. This was 
done by cutting the throats of the victims, and throwing 
them down at the feet of the idol, the whole assembly 
at the same time prostrating themselves. Within the 
temple there was a winnow, or fan, which they called 
Mahri — evidently the emblem of Ceres ; and at a short 
distance, in front of the former, and some paces in 
advance one of the other, were two rude stones, which they 
call, the one Moshani, the other Konadi Mari, but which 
are subordinate to the fan occupying the interior of the 

A village near a coffee estate, which I inspected, 
was, at the time of my visit, in the possession of pariah 
dogs and nude children, the elder children and adults 
being away at work. The village was protected against 
nocturnal feline and other feral marauders by a rude fence, 
and consisted of rows of single-storied huts, with verandah 
in front, made of split bamboo and thatched, detached 
huts, an abundance of fowl-houses, and cucurbitaceous 
plants twining up rough stages. Surrounding the village 
were a dense grove of plantain trees, castor-oil bushes, 
and cattle pens. 

When not engaged at work on estates or in the forest, 
the Irulas cultivate, for their own consumption, ragi 
(Eleusine Coracana), samai {Panicum miliare), tenai 

377 IRULA 

(Selarta italica), tovarai (Ca/anus indicus), maize, plan- 
tains, etc. They also cultivate limes, oranges, jak fruit 
(Artocarpus integrifolid), etc. They, like the Kotas, 
will not attend to cultivation on Saturday or Monday. At 
the season of sowing, Badagas bring cocoanuts, plantains, 
milk and ghi (clarified butter), and give them to the 
Irulas, who, after offering them before their deity, return 
them to the Badagas. 

" The Irulas," a recent writer observes, " generally 
possess a small plot of ground near their villages, which 
they assiduously cultivate with grain, although they 
depend more upon the wages earned by working on 
estates. Some of them are splendid cattle-men, that is, 
in looking after the cattle possessed by some enterprising 
planter, who would add the sale of dairy produce to the 
nowadays pitiable profit of coffee planting. The Irula 
women are as useful as the men in weeding, and all estate 
work. In fact, planters find both men and women far 
more industrious and reliable than the Tamil coolies." 

" By the sale of the produce of the forests," Harkness 
writes, " such as honey and bees wax, or the fruit of 
their gardens, the Irulas are enabled to buy grain for 
their immediate sustenance, and for seed. But, as they 
never pay any attention to the land after it is sown, or 
indeed to its preparation further than by partially clearing 
it of the jungle, and turning it up with the hoe ; or, what 
is more common, scratching it into furrows with a stick, 
and scattering the grain indiscriminately, their crops are, 
of course, stunted and meagre. When the corn is ripe, 
if at any distance from the village, the family to whom 
the patch or field belongs will remove to it, and, con- 
structing temporary dwellings, remain there so long as 
the grain lasts. Each morning they pluck as much as 
they think they may require for the use of that day, 

IRULA 37% 

kindle a fire upon the nearest large stone or fragment of 
rock, and, when it is well heated, brush away the embers, 
and scatter the grain upon it, which, soon becoming 
parched and dry, is readily reduced to meal, which is 
made into cakes. The stone is now heated a second 
time, and the cakes are put on it to bake. Or, where 
they have met with a stone which has a little concavity, 
they will, after heating it, fill the hollow with water, and, 
with the meal, form a sort of porridge. In this way the 
whole family, their friends, and neighbours, will live till 
the grain has been consumed. The whole period is one 
of merry-making. They celebrate Mahri, and invite all 
who may be passing by to join in the festivities. These 
families will, in return, be invited to live on the fields of 
their neighbours. Many of them live for the remainder 
of the year on a kind of yam, which grows wild, and is 
called Erula root. To the use of this they accustom their 
children from infancy." 

Some Irulas now work for the Forest Department, 
which allows them to live on the borders of the forest, 
granting them sites free, and other concessions. Among 
the minor forest produce, which they collect, are myra- 
bolams, bees-wax, honey, vembadam bark {Ventilago 
Madraspatana), avaram bark {Cassia auriculata), deer's 
horns, tamarinds, gum, soapnuts, and sheekoy {Acacia 
concinna). The forests have been divided into blocks, 
and a certain place within each block has been selected 
for the forest depot. To this place the collecting agents — 
mostly Sholagars and Irulas — bring the produce, and 
then it is sorted, and paid for by special supervisors.* 
The collection of honey is a dangerous occupation. A 
man, with a torch in his hand, and a number of bamboo 

* A. W. Lushington, Indian Forester, 1902, 

379 IRULA 

tubes suspended from his shoulders, descends by means 
of ropes or creepers to the vicinity of the comb. The 
sight of the torch drives away the bees, and he proceeds 
to fill the bamboos with the comb, and then ascends to 
the top of the rock.* 

The Irulas will not (so they say) eat the flesh of 
buffaloes or cattle, but will eat sheep and goat, field-rats, 
fowls, deer, pig (which they shoot), hares (which they 
snare with skilfully made nets), jungle-fowl, pigeons, and 
quail (which they knock over with stones). 

They informed Mr. Harkness that, " they have no 
marriage contract, the sexes cohabiting almost indis- 
criminately; the option of remaining in union, or of 
separating, resting principally with the female. Some 
among them, the favourites of fortune, who can afford to 
spend four or five rupees on festivities, will celebrate 
their union by giving a feast to all their friends and 
neighbours ; and, inviting the Kurumbars to attend with 
their pipe and tabor, spend the night in dance and 
merriment. This, however, is a rare occurrence." The 
marriage ceremony, as described to me, is a very simple 
affair. A feast is held, at which a sheep is killed, and the 
guests make a present of a few annas to the bridegroom, 
who ties up the money in a cloth, and, going to the 
bride's hut, conducts her to her future home. Widows 
are permitted to marry again. 

When an Irula dies, two Kurumbas come to the 
village, and one shaves the head of the other. The shorn 
man is fed, and presented with a cloth, which he wraps 
round his head. This quaint ceremonial is supposed, 
in some way, to bring good luck to the departed. 
Outside the house of the deceased, in which the corpse 

* Agricultural Ledger Series, 1904. 

IRULA 380 

is kept till the time of the funeral, men and women 
dance to the music of the Irula band. The dead are 
buried in a sitting posture, with the legs crossed 
tailorwise. Each village has its own burial-ground. A 
circular pit is dug, from the lower end of which a 
chamber is excavated, in which the corpse, clad in its 
own clothes, jewelry, and a new cloth, is placed with 
a lamp and grain. The pit is then filled in, and the 
position of the grave marked by a stone. On the third 
day a sheep is said to be killed, and a feast held. The 
following description of an annual ceremony was given to 
me. A lamp and oil are purchased, and rice is cooked 
in the village. They are then taken to the shrine at the 
burial-ground, offered up on stones, on which some of the 
oil is poured, and puja is done. At the shrine, a pujari, 
with three white marks on the forehead, officiates. Like 
the Badaga Devadari, the Irula pujari at times becomes 
inspired by the god. 

Writing concerning the Kurumbas and Irulas, Mr. 
Walhouse says * that " after every death among them, 
they bring a long water-worn stone (devva kotta kallu), 
and put it into one of the old cromlechs sprinkled over 
the Nilgiri plateau. Some of the larger of these have 
been found piled up to the cap-stone with such pebbles, 
which must have been the work of generations. Occa- 
sionally, too, the tribes mentioned make small cromlechs 
for burial purposes, and place the long water-worn 
pebbles in them." 

The following sub-divisions of the tribe have been 
described to me : — Poongkaru, Kudagar (people of 
Coorg), Kalkatti (those who tie stone), Vellaka, Devala, 
and Koppilingam. Of these, the first five are considered 

• Ind. vi, 1877. 



to be in the relation of brothers, so far as marriage is 
concerned, and do not intermarry. Members of these 
five classes must marry into the Koppilingam sub- 
division. At the census, 1901, Kasuva or Kasuba was 
returned as a sub-caste. The word means workmen, in 
allusion to the abandonment of jungle life in favour of 
working on planters' estates, and elsewhere. 

It is recorded by Harkness that " during the winter, 
or while they are wandering about the forests in search 
of food, driven by hunger, the families or parties separate 
from one another. On these occasions the women and 
young children are often left alone, and the mother, having 
no longer any nourishment for her infant, anticipates its 
final misery by burying it alive. The account here given 
was in every instance corroborated, and in such a manner 
as to leave no doubt in our minds of its correctness." 

The following notes are abstracted from my case- 

Man, set. 30. Sometimes works on a coffee estate. 
At present engaged in the cultivation of grains, pumpkins, 
jak-fruit, and plantains. Goes to the bazaar at Mettu- 
palaiyam to buy rice, salt, chillies, oil, etc. Acquires 
agricultural implements from Kotas, to whom he pays 
annual tribute in grains or money. Wears brass ear- 
rings obtained from Kotas in exchange for vegetables 
and fruit. Wears turban and plain loin-cloth, wrapped 
round body and reaching below the knees. Bag con- 
taining tobacco and betel slung over shoulder. Skin 
very dark. 

Woman, aet. 30. Hair curly, tied in a bunch behind 
round a black cotton swab. Wears a plain waist-cloth, 
and print body-cloth worn square across breasts and 
reaching below the knees. Tattooed on forehead. A 
mass of glass bead necklaces. Gold ornament in left 

IRULA 382 

nostril. Brass ornament in lobe of each ear. Eight brass 
bangles on right wrist ; two brass and six glass bangles 
on left wrist. Five brass rings on right first finger ; 
four brass and one tin ring on right forefinger. 

Woman, set. 25. Red cadjan (palm leaf) roll in dilated 
lobes of ears. Brass and glass bead ornament in helix 
of right ear. Brass ornament in left nostril. A number 
of bead necklets, one with young cowry shells pendent, 
another consisting of a heavy roll of black beads. The 
latter is very characteristic of Irula female adornment. 
One steel bangle, eight brass bangles, and one chank- 
shell bangle on right wrist ; three lead, six glass bangles, 
and one glass bead bangle on left wrist. One steel and 
one brass ring on left little finger. 

Woman, aet. 35. Wears loin-cloth only. Breasts 
fully exposed. Cap of Badaga pattern on head. 

Girl, aet. 8. Lobe of each ear being dilated by a 
number of wooden sticks like matches. 

Average stature i59'8 cm. ; nasal index 85 (max. 100). 

Irulas of Chingleput, North and South Arcot. The 
Irulas, or Villiyans (bowmen), who have settled in the 
town of Chingleput, about fifty miles distant from Madras, 
have attained to a higher degree of civilisation than the 
jungle Irulas of the Nllgiris, and are defined, in the Census 
Report, 1901, as a semi-Brahmanised forest tribe, who 
speak a corrupt Tamil. 

In a note on the Irulas, Mackenzie writes as follows.* 
"After the Yuga Pralayam (deluge, or change from one 
Yuga to another) the Villars or Irulans, Malayans, and 
Vedans, supposed to be descendants of a Rishi under the 
influence of a malignant curse, were living in the forests 
in a state of nature, though they have now taken to 

Oriental Manuscripts. 

3&3 IRULA 

wearing some kind of covering — males putting on 
skins, and females stitched leaves. Roots, wild fruits, 
and honey constitute their dietary, and cooked rice is 
always rejected, even when gratuitously offered. They 
have no clear ideas about God, though they offer rice 
(wild variety) to the goddess Kanniamma. The legend 
runs that a Rishi, Mala Rishi by name, seeing that these 
people were much bothered by wild beasts, took pity on 
them, and for a time lived with them. He mixed freely 
with their women, and as the result, several children 
were born, who were also molested by wild animals. 
To free them from these, the Rishi advised them to do 
puja (worship) to Kanniamma. Several other Rishis 
are also believed to have livedofreely in their midst, and, 
as a result, several new castes arose, among which were 
the Yanadis, who have come into towns, take food from 
other castes, eat cooked rice, and imitate the people 
amidst whom they happen to live." In which respects 
the Irula is now following the example of the Yanadi. 

Many of the Chingleput Irulas are very dark-skinned, 
with narrow chests, thin bodies, and flabby muscles, 
reminding me, in their general aspect, of the Yanadis 
of Nellore. Clothing is, in the men, reduced to a 
minimum — dhuti, and languti of dirty white cotton cloth, 
or a narrow strip of gaudy Manchester piece-good. 
The hair is worn long and ragged, or shaved, with 
kudimi, in imitation of the higher classes. The 
moustache is slight, and the beard billy-goaty. Some of 
the men are tattooed with a blue dot on the glabella, or 
vertical mid-frontal line. For ornaments they have a 
stick in the helix, or simple ornament in the ear-lobe. 

Their chief source of livelihood is husking paddy 
(rice), but they also gather sticks for sale as firewood in 
return for pice, rice, and sour fermented rice gruel, which 

IRULA 384 

is kept by the higher classes for cattle. This gruel is 
also highly appreciated by the Yanadis. While husking 
rice, they eat the bran, and, if not carefully watched, will 
steal as much of the rice as they can manage to secrete 
about themselves. As an addition to their plain dietary 
they catch field (Jerboa) rats, which they dig out with 
long sticks, after they have been asphyxiated with smoke 
blown into their tunnels through a small hole in an 
earthen pot filled with dried leaves, which are set on 
fire. When the nest is dug out, they find material for a 
meat and vegetable curry in the dead rats, with the 
hoarded store of rice or other grain. They feast on the 
bodies of winged white-ants (Termites), which they 
search with torch-lights at the time of their seasonal 
epidemic appearance. Some years ago a theft occurred 
in my house at night, and it was proved by a plaster 
cast of a foot-print in the mud produced by a nocturnal 
shower that one of my gardeners, who did not live 
on the spot, had been on the prowl. The explanation 
was that he had been collecting as a food-stuff the 
carcases of the winged ants, which had that evening 
appeared in myriads. 

Some Irulas are herbalists, and are believed to have 
the powers of curing certain diseases, snake-poisoning, 
and the bites of rats and insects. 

Occasionally the Irulas collect the leaves of the 
banyan, Butea frondosa, or lotus, for sale as food- 
platters, and they will eat the refuse food left on 
the platters by Brahmans and other higher classes. 
They freely enter the houses of Brahmans and non- 
Brahman castes, and are not considered as carrying 

They have no fixed place of abode, which they 
often change. Some live in low, palmyra-thatched 

3^5 IRULA 

huts of small dimensions ; others under a tree, in an 
open place, in ruined buildings, or the street pials 
(verandah) of houses. Their domestic utensils consist 
of a few pots, one or two winnows, scythes, a crow-bar, 
a piece of flint and steel for making fire, and a dirty- 
bag for tobacco and betel. In making fire, an angular 
fragment of quartz is held against a small piece of 
pith, and dexterously struck with an iron implement 
so that the spark falls on the pith, which can be rapidly 
blown into a blaze. To keep the children warm in 
the so-called cold season (with a minimum of 58 to 6o°), 
they put their babies near the fire in pits dug in 
the ground. 

For marital purposes they recognise tribal sub- 
divisions in a very vague way. Marriage is not a 
very impressive ceremonial. The bridegroom has to 
present new cloths to the bride, and his future father- and 
mother-in-law. The cloth given to the last-named is called 
the pal kuli (milk money) for having nursed the bride. 
Marriage is celebrated on any day, except Saturday. 
A very modest banquet, in proportion to their slender 
means, is held, and toddy provided, if the state of 
the finances will run to it. Towards evening the 
bride and bridegroom stand in front of the house, 
and the latter ties the tali, which consists of a bead 
necklace with a round brass disc. In the case of a 
marriage which took place during my visit, the bride 
had been wearing her new bridal cloth for a month 
before the event. 

The Irulas worship periodically Kanniamma, their 
tribal deity, and Mari, the general goddess of epidemic 
disease. The deity is represented by five pots arranged 
in the form of a square, with a single pot in the centre, 
filled with turmeric water. Close to these a lamp 



is lighted, and raw rice, jaggery (crude sugar), rice 
flour, betel leaves and areca nuts are offered before it. 
Mari is represented by a white rag flag dyed with 
turmeric, hoisted on a bamboo in an open space near 
their dwellings, to which fowls, sheep, and other cooked 
articles, are offered. 

The dead are buried lying flat on the face, with 
the head to the north, and the face turned towards 
the east. When the grave has been half filled in, 
they throw into it a prickly-pear (Opuntia Dillenii) 
shrub, and make a mound over it. Around this they 
place a row or two of prickly-pear stems to keep 
off jackals. No monumental stone is placed over the 

By means of the following table a comparison can be 
readily made between the stature and nasal index 
of the jungle Sholagas and Nilgiri Irulas, and of 
the more civilised Irulas of Chingleput and Oralis of 
Coimbatore : — 


„ bo 

V . 

c to 

si V 

.s S 

M C 

■B 3 

•S s 

a s 







Irulas, Nilgiris 





Irulas, Chingleput ... 










The table shows clearly that, while all the four 
tribes are of short and uniform stature, the nasal 
index, both as regards average, maximum and minimum, 
is higher in the Sholagas and Irulas of the Nilgiri jungles 
than in the more domesticated Irulas of Chingleput 




and Oralis. In brief, the two former, who have mingled 
less with the outside world, retain the archaic type 
of platyrhine nose to a greater extent than the two 
latter. The reduction of platyrhiny, as the result of 
civilisation and emergence from the jungle to the vicinity 
of towns, is still further brought out by the following 
figures relating to the two classes of Irulas, and the 
Kanikars of Travancore, who still live a jungle life, 
and those who have removed to the outskirts of a 
populous town : — 

Nasal index. 




Irulas, jungle 




Kanikars, jungle 




Kanikars, domesticated ... 

81 '2 



Irulas, domesticated 




The Irulas of North Arcot are closely related to 
those of Chingleput. Concerning them, Mr. H. A. 
Stuart writes as follows.* " Many members of this 
forest tribe have taken to agriculture in the neigh- 
bouring villages, but the majority still keep to the 
hills, living upon roots and wild animals, and bartering 
forest produce for a few rags or a small quantity of 
grain. When opportunity offers, they indulge in cattle 
theft and robbery. They disclaim any connection with 
the Yanadis, whom they hate. Their aversion is such 
that they will not even allow a Yanadi to see them eating. 
They offer worship to the Sapta Kannikais or seven 
virgins, whom they represent in the form of an earthenware 

* Manual of the North Arcot district. 

II-25 B 

IRULA 388 

oil-lamp, which they often place under the bandari 
{Dodoncea viscosa ?), which is regarded by them as 
sacred. These lamps are made by ordinary village 
potters, who, however, are obliged to knead the clay 
with their hands, and not with their feet. Sometimes 
they place these representatives of their goddess in 
caves, but, wherever they place them, no Pariah or 
Yanadi can be allowed to approach. The chief occasion 
of worship, as with the Kurumbas and Yanadis, is at the 
head-shaving ceremony of children. All children at 
these times, who are less than ten years old, are collected, 
and the maternal uncle of each cuts off one lock of hair, 
which is fastened to a ragi (Ficus religiosd) bough. 
They rarely contract marriages, the voluntary association 
of men and women being terminable at the will of either. 
The more civilised, however, imitate the Hindu culti- 
vating castes by tying a gold bead, stuck on a thread, 
round the bride's neck, but the marriage tie thus formed 
is easily broken. They always bury their dead. Some 
Irulas are credited with supernatural powers, and are 
applied to by low Sudras for advice. The ceremony is 
called suthi or rangam. The medium affects to be 
possessed by the goddess, and utters unmeaning sounds, 
being, they say, unconscious all the while. A few of 
his companions pretend to understand with difficulty the 
meaning of his words, and interpret them to the inquirer. 
The Irulas never allow any sort of music during their 
ceremonies, nor will they wear shoes, or cover their body 
with more than the scantiest rag. Even in the coldest 
and dampest weather, they prefer the warmth of a fire to 
that of a cumbly (blanket). They refuse even to cover 
an infant with a cloth, but dig a small hollow in the 
ground, and lay the newly-born babe in it upon a few 
leaves of the bandari." 


389 IRULA 

There are two classes of Irulas in the North Arcot 
district, of which one lives in towns and villages, and the 
other leads a jungle life. Among the latter, as found 
near Kuppam, there are two distinct divisions, called 
Iswaran Vagaira and Dharmaraja. The former set up 
a stone beneath a temporary hut, and worship it by 
offering cooked rice and cocoanuts on unam (Lettsomia 
ellipticd) leaves. The god Dharmaraja is represented 
by a vessel instead of a stone, and the offerings are 
placed in a basket. In the jungle section, a woman may 
marry her deceased husband's brother. The dead are 
buried face upwards, and three stones are set up over 
the grave. 

The Irulas of South Arcot, Mr. Francis writes,* "are 
chiefly found about the Gingee hills, talk a corrupt Tamil, 
are very dark skinned, have very curly hair, never shave 
their heads, and never wear turbans or sandals. They 
dwell in scattered huts — never more than two or three 
in one place — which are little, round, thatched hovels, 
with a low doorway through which one can just crawl, 
built among the fields. They subsist by watching crops, 
baling water from wells, and, when times are hard, by 
crime of a mild kind. In Villupuram and Tirukkoyilur 
taluks, and round Gingee, they commit burglaries in a 
mild and unscientific manner if the season is bad, and they 
are pressed by want, but, if the ground-nut crop is a 
good one, they behave themselves. They are perhaps 
the poorest and most miserable community in the district. 
Only one or two of them own any land, and that is only 
dry land. They snare hares now and again, and collect 
the honey of the wild bees by letting themselves down 
the face of cliffs at night by ladders made of twisted 

* Gazetteer of the South Arcot district. 

IRULA 390 

creepers. Some of them are prostitutes, and used to 
display their charms in a shameless manner at the Chetti- 
palaiyam market near Gingee, decked out in quantities 
of cheap jewellery, and with their eyelids darkened in 
clumsy imitation of their sisters of the same profession 
in other castes. There is little ceremony at a wedding. 
The old men of the caste fix the auspicious day, the 
bridegroom brings a few presents, a pandal (booth) is 
made, a tali is tied, and there is a feast to the relations. 
The rites at births and deaths are equally simple. The 
dead are usually buried, lying face upwards, a stone and 
some thorns being placed over the grave to keep off 
jackals. On the eleventh day after the death, the eldest 
son ties a cloth round his head — a thing which is other- 
wise never worn — and a little rice is coloured with 
saffron (turmeric) and then thrown into water. This is 
called casting away the sin, and ill-luck would befall the 
eldest son if the ceremony were omitted. The Irulans 
pay homage to almost all the gramadevatas (village 
deities), but probably the seven Kannimars are their 
favourite deities." 

As already indicated, the Irulas, like the Yerukalas, 
indulge in soothsaying. The Yerukala fortune-teller 
goes about with her basket, cowry shells, and rod, and 
will carry out the work of her profession anywhere, at 
any time, and any number of times in a day. The Irula, 
on the contrary, remains at his home, and will only tell 
fortunes close to his hut, or near the hut where his gods 
are kept. In case of sickness, people of all classes come 
to consult the Irula fortune-teller, whose occupation is 
known as Kannimar varniththal. Taking up his drum, 
he warms it over the fire, or exposes it to the heat of the 
sun. When it is sufficiently dry to vibrate to his satis- 
faction, Kannimar is worshipped by breaking a cocoanut, 










and burning camphor and incense. Closing his eyes, 
the Irula beats the drum, and shakes his head about, 
while his wife, who stands near him, sprinkles turmeric 
water over him. After a few minutes, bells are tied to 
his right wrist. In about a quarter of an hour he begins 
to shiver, and breaks out in a profuse perspiration. This 
is a sure sign that he is possessed by Kanniamman. 
His wife unties his kudumi (tuft of hair), the shaking 
of the head becomes more violent, he breathes rapidly, 
and hisses like a snake. His wife praises Kannimar. 
Gradually the man becomes calmer, and addresses those 
around him as if he were the goddess, saying, " Oh ! 
children. I have come down on my car, which is 
decorated with mango flowers, margosa and jasmine. 
You need fear nothing so long as I exist, and you 
worship me. This country will be prosperous, and the 
people will continue to be happy. Ere long my precious 
car, immersed in the tank (pond) on the hill, will be 
taken out, and after that the country will become more 
prosperous," and so on. Questions are generally put to 
the inspired man, not directly, but through his wife. 
Occasionally, even when no client has come to consult 
him, the Irula will take up his drum towards dusk, and 
chant the praises of Kannimar, sometimes for hours at a 
stretch, with a crowd of Irulas collected round him. 

The name Shikari (hunter) is occasionally adopted as a 
synonym for Irula. And, in South Arcot, some Irulas call 
themselves Ten (honey) Vanniyans or Vana (forest) Pallis. 

Irula (darkness or night). — An exogamous sept of 

Irumpu (iron) Kollan. — A sub-division of Kollan. 

Irunul (two strings). — A division of Marans in 
Travancore, in which the remarriage of widows is 

IRUVU 392 

Iruvu (black ant). — An exogamous sept of Kuruba. 

Isan (god). — A title of Koliyan. 

Iswaran Vagaira.— A division of the Irulas of 
North Arcot. The name denotes that they belong to the 
Iswara (Siva) section. 

Ite.— The Itevandlu are a class of Telugu jugglers 
and acrobats, who " exhibit shows, such as wrestling, 
climbing high posts, rope-walking, etc. The women, 
like Dommara females, act as common prostitutes."* 

Itattara.— Recorded, in the Travancore Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as a sub-division of Nayar. 

Izhava.— The Izhavans or Ilavans, and Tiyans, are 
the Malayalam toddy-drawing castes of Malabar, Cochin 
and Travancore. The etymology of the name Izhavan 
is dealt with in the article on Tiyans. 

For the following note on the Izhavas of Travan- 
core, I am, when not otherwise recorded, indebted to 
Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. These people are known 
as Izhavas in South and parts of Central Travancore, 
and Chovas in parts of Central and North Travancore. 
They constitute 17 per cent, of the total population of 
the State. Izhava is said to mean those belonging to 
Izham, a corruption of Simhalam, one of the old names 
of Ceylon. Jaffna, in the north of that island, appears 
to have been specially known by the name of Izham, 
and from this place the Izhavas are believed to have 
originally proceeded to Malabar. Chova is supposed to 
be a corruption of Sevaka, or servant. In some old 
boat songs current in Malabar, it occurs in the less 
corrupt form of Chevaka. According to a legend, a 
Pandyan princess named Alii married Narasimha, a 
Rajah of the Carnatic. The royal couple migrated to 

* Manual of the Nellore district. 


Ceylon, and there settled themselves as rulers. On the 
line becoming extinct, however, their relatives and 
adherents returned to the continent, where they were 
accorded only a very low position in society. It is said 
that they were the ancestors of the Izhavas. In support 
of this theory, it is urged that, in South Travancore, the 
Izhavas are known by the title of Mudaliyar, which is 
also the surname of a division of the Vellalas at Jaffna ; 
that the Vattis and Mannans call them Mudaliyars ; and 
that the Pulayas have ever been known to address them 
only as Muttatampurans. But it may be well supposed 
that the title may have been conferred upon some 
families of the caste in consideration of meritorious 
services on behalf of the State. One of the chief occu- 
pations, in which the Izhavas first engaged themselves, 
was undoubtedly the cultivation of palm trees. In the 
famous grant of 824 A.D., it is distinctly mentioned that 
they had a headman of their guild, and their duty was 
planting up waste lands. They had two special privi- 
leges, known as the foot-rope right and ladder right, 
which clearly explain the nature of their early occupation. 
The Syrian Christians appear to have a tradition that 
the Izhavas were invited to settle on the west coast at 
their suggestion. The Izhavas are said to have brought 
to Kerala a variety each of the areca palm, champak, 
and lime tree, to whose vernacular names the word 
Izham is even to-day invariably prefixed. In the middle 
ages, they were largely employed as soldiers by the rulers 
of Malabar. Titles and privileges were distributed 
among these soldiers. Canter Visscher, writing about 
the Rajah of Ambalapuzha in the middle of the 
eighteenth century, * observes that " the Rajah of 

• Letters from Malabar. 


Porkkad has not many Nayars, in the place of whom he 
is served by Chegos," and that " in times of civil war or 
rebellion, the Chegos are bound to take up arms for 
their lawful sovereign." The Panikkans of Ambanat 
house in the Ambalapuzha taluk were the leaders of the 
Izhava force, and many powers and privileges were 
conferred upon this family by the Chembakasseri 
(Ambalapuzha) princes. Even so late as the days of 
Maharaja Rama Verma, who died in 973 M.E., large 
numbers of Izhavas were employed as soldiers of the 
State, if we may believe the account of Friar Bartolomeo,* 
who is generally a very accurate writer. The South 
Travancore Izhavas used to divide themselves into two 
parties on the occasion of the Onam festival, and fight at 
Kaithamukku near Trivandrum. Any young man who 
did not attend this camp of exercise had a piece of wood 
tied as a wedding ornament round his neck, was led in 
procession thrice round the village, and transported to 
the sea-coast. 

The Izhavas proper are divided into three sub- 
sections called Pachchili, Pandi, and Malayalam. The 
Pachchilis live in the tract of land called Pachchalur 
in the Neyyattinkara taluk between Tiruvellam and 
Kovalam. They are only a handful in number. The 
Pandis are largely found in Trivandrum and Chirayinkil. 
Most of them take the title of Panikkan. The Malayala 
Izhavas are sub-divided into four exogamous groups or 
illams, named Muttillam, Madampi or Pallichal, Mayan- 
atti, and Chozhi. Pallichal is a place in the Neyyattin- 
kara taluk, and Mayannat in Ouilon. The members of 
the Chozhi illam are believed to have been later settlers. 
There is another division of these Izhavas called 

* Voyage to the East Indies. Translation, 1800. 


Patikramams, based on a more or less geographical 
distinction. These are also four in number, and called 
Pallikkattara, Palattara, Irunkulamgara, and Tenganad, 
their social precedence being in this order. Pallikkattara 
is in Chirayinkil, Palattara in Quilon, Irunkulamgara in 
Trivandrum, and Tenganad in Neyyattinkara. The 
Palattara section is the most orthodox, and rigorously 
preserves its endogamous character, though some of the 
titular dignitaries among the Chovas of Central Travan- 
core have found it possible to contract alliances with 
them. The divisions of the Illam and Patikkramam are 
absent among the Chovas. Among these, however, 
there is a division into Sthani or Melkudi, Tanikudi, and 
Kizhkudi, the first denoting the titular head, the 
second the ordinary class, and the third those under 
communal degradation. Among the last are included 
the toddy-drawing families, Vaduvans, and Nadis. 
Vaduvans are the slaves of the Izhavas, and, in ancient 
days, could be regularly bought and sold by them. 
Nadis live in Kartikapalli and some other parts of 
Central Travancore. They are people who have been 
outcasted from the community for various offences by the 
headmen, and cannot enter the kitchen of the ordinary 
Izhavas. They are served for ceremonial purposes not 
by the regular priests of the Izhavas, but by a distinct 
outcaste sect like themselves, known as Nadikuruppus. 
The Izhavattis, who are the priests of the caste, form a 
distinct sect with special manners and customs. Channan, 
a corruption of the Tamil word, Chanror or chiefmen, is 
the most important of the titles of the Izhavas. This 
title was conferred upon distinguished members of the 
caste as a family honour by some of the ancient 
sovereigns of the country. Panikkan comes next in 
rank, and is derived from pani, work. Tantan, from 


danda meaning punishment or control, is a popular title 
in some parts. Asan, from Acharya, a teacher, is 
extremely common. The recipients of this honour were 
instructors in gymnastics and military exercises to Nayar 
and Izhava soldiers in bygone times, and even now ruins 
of old kalaris or exercise grounds attached to their 
houses are discernible in many places. Some Izhavas 
in South Travancore appear to be honoured with the 
title of Mudaliyar. Many families were invested with 
similar honours by the ancient ruling houses of Ambala- 
puzha, Kayenkulam, and Jayasimhanad (Quilon). Even 
now, some titles are conferred by the Rajah of Idappalli. 
The wives of these dignitaries are respectively known as 
Channatti, Panikkatti, etc. 

The houses 'of the Izhavas resemble those of the 
Nayars in form. Each house is a group of buildings, 
the most substantial of which, known as the arappura, 
stands in the centre. On the left side is the vadakkettu 
or woman's apartment, including the kitchen. There is 
a court-yard in front of the arappura, and a little build- 
ing called kizhakkettu enclosing it on the eastern side. 
Houses invariably face the east. The main entrance 
stands a little to the south of the kizhakkettu, to the 
south of which again is the tozhuttu or cow-shed. These 
buildings, of course, are found only in rich houses, the 
poor satisfying themselves with an arappura, a vatakketu, 
and a tozhuttu. A tekketu is to be seen to the south of 
the arappura in some cases. This is erected mainly to 
perpetuate the memory of some deceased member of 
the family known for learning, piety, or bravery. A pitha 
or seat, a conch, a cane, and a small bag containing ashes, 
are secured within. It is kept scrupulously free from 
pollution, and worship is offered on fixed days to the 
ancestors. The tekketu is enclosed on all the three sides, 


except the east. This description of houses in South 
Travancore, as far as Trivandrum, applies also to buildings 
erected to the north as far as Quilon, though tekketus 
are not so largely found as in the south. In some parts 
here, the southern room of the main buildings is conse- 
crated to the memory of ancestors. In Central Travan- 
core there are big kalaris to the south of the arappura 
in most of the ancient houses, and antique weapons 
and images of tutelary divinities are carefully preserved 

In dress and ornament, the Izhavas closely resemble 
the Nayars. The tattu form of dress is not prevalent 
among Izhava women. In the wearing of the cloth, the 
left side comes inside instead of the right in the case of 
South Travancore Izhava women, though this rule is not 
without its exceptions. In South Travancore, the orna- 
ments of women differ considerably from those of the 
north. Here they wear the pampadam or Tamil Sudra 
women's ear ornament, and adorn the wrists with a pair 
of silver bangles. The nose ornaments mukkuthi and 
gnattu have only recently begun to be worn, and are not 
very popular in Central and North Travancore. This is 
a point in which Izhavas may be said to differ from the 
South Travancore Nayar matrons. The ear ornament 
of elderly Izhava women in North Travancore is of 
an antique type called atukkam-samkhu-chakkravum. 
Women in the rural parts wear a curious neck ornament 
called anti-minnu. Of late, all ornaments of Nayar 
women are being worn by fashionable Izhava females. 
But Izhava and Nayar women can be distinguished by 
the tie of the hair lock, the Izhava women usually 
bringing it to the centre of the forehead, while the Nayars 
place it on one side, generally the left. Tattooing was 
once prevalent in South Travancore, but is gradually 


losing favour. It was never in vogue in North 

The Izhavas eat both fish and flesh. Rabbits, deer, 
pigs, sheep, porcupines, fowls, doves, guinea-fowls, pea- 
cocks, and owls are believed to make popular dishes. 
The sweetmeat called ariyunta, and the curry known as 
mutirakkary, are peculiar to the Izhavas, and prepared 
best by them. 

The most important occupation of the Izhavas till 
recently was the cultivation of palm trees, and the 
preparation of toddy and arrack. Barbosa, writing in 
the sixteenth century, states that " their principal employ- 
ment is to till the palm trees, and gather their fruits ; 
and to carry everything for hire from one point to another, 
because they are not in the habit of transporting them 
with beasts of burden, as there are none ; and they hew 
stone, and gain their livelihood by all kinds of labour. 
Some of them bear the use of arms, and fight in the wars 
when it is necessary. They carry a staff in their hand of 
a fathom's length as a sign of their lineage." With the 
progress of culture and enlightenment, the occupation of 
extracting liquor from the cocoanut palm has ceased to 
be looked upon with favour, and such families as are 
now given to that pursuit have come to be regarded as a 
low division of the Chovas. In some parts of Travancore, 
the latter do not even enjoy the privilege of commensality 
with the other Izhavas. Agriculture is a prominent 
profession, and there are several wealthy and influential 
landlords in the community. There is also a fair percent- 
age of agricultural labourers. A preliminary rite, called 
pozhutana sowing, is performed by farmers, who throw 
three handfuls of rice seed on a clay image representing 
Ganesa, and pray that their fields may yield a good 
harvest. Before the time of reaping, on an auspicious 


morning, a few sheaves are brought, and hung up in 
some prominent place in the house. This ceremony is 
known as nira, and is common to all Hindu castes. At 
the end of it, the inmates of the house partake of puttari 
or new rice. 

There are a few other customary rites observed by 
agriculturists, viz. : — 

(i) Metiyittu-varuka, or throwing the grains of the 
first sheaf upon another, and covering it with its straw, 
this being afterwards appropriated by the chief agri- 
cultural labourer present. 

(2) Koytu-pitichcha-katta-kotukkuka, or handing 
over the first sheaves of grain fastened together with 
Strychnos Nux-vomica leaves to the owner of the field, who 
is obliged to preserve them till the next harvest season. 

(3) Kotuti, or offering of oblations of a few grains 
dipped in toddy to the spirits of agricultural fields, the 
Pulaya priest crying aloud ' Poli, va, poli, va,' meaning 
literally May good harvest come. 

As manufacturers, the Izhavas occupy a position in 
Travancore. They produce several kinds of cloth, for 
local consumption in the main, and make mats, tiles, and 
ropes, with remarkable skill. They are also the chief 
lemon-grass oil distillers of Travancore. In the pro- 
fessions of medicine and astrology, the Izhavas have 
largely engaged themselves. While it must be confessed 
that many of them are utter strangers to culture, there 
are several who have received a sound education, 
especially in Sanskrit. On the whole, the Izhavas may 
be said to be one of the most industrious and prosperous 
communities on the west coast. 

The Izhavas form a pious and orthodox Hindu caste. 
Though they cannot enter the inner court-yard of 
temples, they attend there in considerable numbers, and 


make their pious offerings. Over several temples the 
Travancore Izhavas have a joint right with the Nayars. 
In illustration, the shrines of Saktikulamgara in Karu- 
nagappali, and Chettikulangara in Mavelikara, may be 
mentioned. Over these and other temples, the rights 
that have been enjoyed from time immemorial by certain 
Izhava families are respected even at the present day. 
In most places, the Izhavas have their own temples, with 
a member of their own or the Izhavatti caste as priest. 
As no provision had been made in them for daily worship, 
there was no necessity in early times for the regular 
employment of priests. The deity usually worshipped 
was Bhadrakali, who was believed to help them in their 
military undertakings. The offerings made to her 
involved animal sacrifices. The temples are generally 
low thatched buildings with a front porch, an enclosure 
wall, and a grove of trees. There are many instances, 
in which the enclosure wall is absent. The Bhadrakali 
cult is gradually losing favour under the teaching of a 
Vedantic scholar and religious reformer named Nanan 
Asan. In many Central and South Travancore shrines, 
images of Subramania have been set up at his instance, 
and daily worship is offered by bachelor priests appointed 
by the castemen. An association for the social, material, 
and religious amelioration of the community, called 
Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, has been started. 
Its head-quarters is at Aruvippuram in the Nayyatinkara 
taluk. Every morning, the sun is specially worshipped 
by the cultured class. In ancient times, the adoration 
of Anchu Tampurakkal or the five deities, now identified 
with the Pandavas of the Mahabharata, prevailed among 
these people. This worship is found among the Pulayas 
also. At Mayyanad in Quilon, there is still an Izhava 
temple dedicated to these five lords. Women visit 


shrines on all Mondays and Fridays, with a view to 
worshipping Gauri, the consort of Siva. Male Izhavas 
devote the first and last days of a month, as also that on 
which the star of their nativity falls, to religious worship. 
The Izhavas of Central Travancore pay homage to a 
spirit called Kayalil Daivam, or the deity of backwaters. 
When a village becomes infected with small-pox or 
cholera, offerings are made to the Bhadrakali shrine in 
that locality. The most important offering goes by the 
name of Kalam Vaikkuka, or pot placing. A woman 
of the house of the local Panikkan or chief member 
fasts, and, bearing a pot containing five nalis (a small 
measure) of paddy (unhusked rice), proceeds to all the 
other Izhava houses in the village, accompanied by 
musical instruments. One woman from every house 
marches to the shrine with her offering of paddy and a 
chuckram (nearly half an anna). The priest receives the 
offerings, converts the paddy into rice, and, depositing a 
portion of it in each of the pots, hands them back to the 
votaries on the morning of the next day. Another 
ceremony performed on such occasions is called Desa- 
kuruti, when women fast, and, taking all the food-stuffs 
necessary, proceed to the temple. After the sacrifice of 
a goat and fowls by the priest, they make an offering 
of the food to the deity before dinner. Tukkam, or 
suspension, is another propitiatory ceremony. A religi- 
ous observance, known as Mamachchirappu, finds favour 
with the Izhavas of Central Travancore in the month 
of Vrischikam (November- December). Every Izhava 
bathes in the evening, addresses the deities by their 
names for about an hour, and then makes an offering 
of tender cocoanuts, fruits, and fried grain. This takes 
place according to the convenience of each family from 
twelve to forty-one days. 


In connection with the tukkam ceremony, Mr. L. K. 
Anantha Krishna Aiyar writes as follows.* " There are 
two kinds of hook-swinging, namely Garuda (Brahmini 
kite) and thoni (boat) tukkam. The ceremony is per- 
formed in fulfilment of a vow, to obtain some favour of 
the deity Kali, before whose presence it is carried out. 
The performer of the ceremony should bathe early in the 
morning, and be in a state of preparation either for a 
year or for forty-one days by worshipping the deity 
Bhagavati. He must strictly abstain from meat, all 
kinds of intoxicating liquors, and association with women. 
During the morning hours, the performer dresses himself 
in a garment tucked into the waist-band, rubs his body 
with oil, and is shampooed particularly on the back, a 
portion of the flesh in the middle of which is stretched 
for the insertion of a hook. He is also taught by his 
instructor to perform various feats called payitta. This 
he continues till the festival, when he has to swing in 
fulfilment of the vow. In kite swinging, a kind of car, 
resting on two axles provided with four wheels, is 
employed. On it, there is a horizontal beam resting on 
two vertical supports. A strong rope tied to a ring 
attached to the beam is connected with the hook which 
passes through the flesh of the back. Over the beam 
there is a kutaram (tent), which is tastefully decorated. 
Inside it, two or three persons can swing at a time. 
There is a different arrangement in some places. Instead 
of the beam and the supports, there is a small pole, on 
which rests a horizontal beam provided with a metallic 
ring at one end. The beam acts as a lever, so that one 
end of it can be either raised or lowered, so as to give 
some rest to the swinger. The rope tied to the ring is 

• Monograph Ethnograph : Survey of Cochin, No. 10, Izhavas, 1905. 


connected with the hook and the waist-band. For boat 
swinging, the same kind of vehicle, without wheels, is 
in use. For kite swinging, the performer has his face 
painted green. He has to put on artificial lips and wings 
in imitation of those of the kite, and wears long locks of 
hair like those of an actor in a Kathakali. As he swings, 
the car is taken three, five, seven, nine, or eleven times 
round the temple. In boat swinging, the car is likewise 
carried round the temple, with the swinger performing 
his feats, as in the case of kite swinging, to the accom- 
paniment of music. He has to put on the same kind 
of dress, except the lips and wings. In pillayeduthu- 
tukkam, or swinging with a child in fulfilment of a 
vow, the child is taken to the temple by his parents, 
who pay to the temple authorities thirty-four chuckrams 
in Travancore, and sixty-four puthans* in Cochin. The 
child is then handed over to the swinger, who carries the 
child as he swings. These performances are sometimes 
made at the expense of the temple, but more generally of 
persons who make the outlay in fulfilment of a vow. In 
the latter case, it costs as much as Rs. 150 for the kite 
swinger, but only Rs. 30 for the boat swinger. During 
the festival, they are fed in the temple, owing to their 
being in a state of vow. It is the Nayars, Kammalars, 
Kuruppans, and Izhavas, who perform the swinging in 
fulfilment of a vow. In the fight between the goddess 
Kali and the demon Darika, the latter was completely 
defeated, and the former, biting him on the back, drank 
his blood to gratify her feelings of animosity. Hook- 
swinging symbolises this incident, and the bloodshed by 
the insertion of the hook through the flesh is intended 
as an offering to the goddess." 

* Chuckrams and puthans are coins. 
II-26 B 


Of the hook-swinging ceremony as performed a few 
years ago at the Kollangadu temple in Travancore, an 
excellent account is given by the Rev. T. Knowles,* from 
which the following precis has been compiled. In front 
of the temple was a booth containing the image of the 
goddess Bhadrakali, a cruel deity, who is supposed to 
delight in blood. At a little distance was the car. The 
bottom part of this was very much like a lorry used when 
transporting large logs of timber by means of elephants. 
There . were four solid wheels of thick timber, with 
a frame work, like a railway waggon on a small scale. 
To this were attached two thick cable ropes. Joined to 
the sides of the car were two upright posts, about 15 feet 
high, strengthened with stays and cross-pieces. On the 
top was a piece of thick timber with a hole in it, and the 
bottom rounded, which fitted into a cross-piece, and 
allowed the long beam on which the men were swung to 
move up or down. This beam was 35 or 40 feet long, 
and about 9 inches in diameter. It was placed through 
the hole in the piece of timber on the top of the upright 
frame, and balanced in the middle like a huge see-saw. 
At one end of the hole was a covered canopy, and at the 
other long ropes were fastened, which trailed on the 
ground. The whole arrangement of the car was such 
that, by lowering one end of the long beam to the ground, 
and fastening a man to it, and then pulling down the 
other end by the ropes, the man could be raised into 
the air to a height of some 40 feet or more. The whole 
car could then be dragged by the thick cable ropes round 
the temple. While the subject was being prepared for 
swinging, a mat was stretched above his head, partly to 
do him honour, partly to protect him from the sun. His 

* Wide World Magazine, September 1899. 


head and neck were richly ornamented, and below he was 
bedecked with peacock's feathers, and clad in a loin-cloth, 
which would bear some, if not all the weight of his body. 
Amid the firing of mortars, beating of tom-toms, the 
screeching of flutes, and the shouts of the crowd, the 
canopied end of the long beam was lowered, and the 
devotee, lying prone on the ground, was fastened to the 
beam by means of ropes passing under his arms and 
around his chest. To some of the ropes, hooks were 
fastened. The priests took hold of the fleshy part of the 
man's back, squeezed up the flesh, and put some four 
hooks at least through it. A rudely fashioned sword and 
shield were then given to the man, and he was swung up 
into the air, waving the sword and shield, and making 
convulsive movements. Slowly the people dragged the 
car round the temple, a distance not quite as far as round 
St. Paul's cathedral. Some of the: men were suspended 
while the car was dragged round three or four times. 
The next devotee was fastened in the same way to the 
beam, but, instead of a sword and shield, the priests gave 
him an infant in his arms, and devotee and infant were 
swung up in the air, and the car dragged round the 
temple as before. Some children were brought forward, 
whose parents had made vows about them. The little 
ones were made to prostrate themselves before the image 
of Kali. Then the fleshy parts of their sides were 
pinched up, and some wires put through. This done, 
the wires were placed in the hands of the relatives, and 
the children were led round and round the temple, as 
though in leading strings. It is on record that, when 
the devotee has been specially zealous, the whole machine 
has been moved to a considerable distance while he was 
suspended from it, to the admiration of the gaping 


In connection with the religion of the Ilavars, the 
Rev. S. Mateer writes as follows.* " Demon worship, 
especially that of Bhadrakali, a female demon described 
as a mixture of mischief and cruelty, is the customary 
cultus of the caste, with sacrifices and offerings and 
devil-dancing like the Shanars. Shastavu and Vira- 
bhadran are also venerated, and the ghosts of ancestors. 
Groves of trees stand near the temples, and serpent 
images are common, these creatures being accounted 
favourites of Kali. They carry their superstitions and 
fear of the demons into every department and incident 
of life. In some temples and ceremonies, as at Paroor, 
Sarkarei, etc., they closely associate with the Sudras. 
The Ilavar temples are generally low, thatched buildings, 
with front porch, a good deal of wooden railing and 
carving about them, an enclosure wall, and a grove or 
a few trees, such as Ficus religiosa, Plumeria, and Bassia. 
At the Ilavar temple near Chakki in the outskirts of 
Trevandrum, the goddess Bhadrakali is represented as 
a female seated on an image, having two wings, gilt and 
covered with serpents. Twice a year, fowls and sheep 
are sacrificed by an Ilavan priest, and offerings of grain, 
fruit, and flowers are presented. The side-piercing 
ceremony is also performed here. A temple at Manga- 
lattukonam, about ten miles south of Trevandrum, at 
which I witnessed the celebration of the annual festival 
on the day following Meena Bharani, in March or April, 
may be taken as a fair example of the whole. In 
connection with this temple may be seen a peculiar 
wooden pillar and small shrine at the top, somewhat like 
a pigeon-house. This is called a tani maram, and is a kind 
of altar, or residence, for the demon Madan, resembling 

• Native Life in Travancore, 1883. 


the temporary shrines on sticks or platforms erected by 
the Pulayars. On it are carvings of many-headed serpents, 
etc., and a projecting lamp for oil. For the festival, the 
ground around the temple was cleared of weeds, the 
outhouses and sheds decorated with flowers, and on the 
tani maram were placed two bunches of plantains, at its 
foot a number of devil-dancing sticks. Close by were 
five or six framework shrines, constructed of soft palm 
leaves and pith of plantain tree, and ornamented with 
flowers. These were supposed to be the residence of 
some minor powers, and in them were placed, towards 
night, offerings of flowers, rice, plantains, cocoanuts, and 
blood. The Ilavars who assemble for the festival wear 
the marks of Siva, a dot and horizontal lines on the 
forehead, and three horizontal lines of yellow turmeric on 
the chest. They begin to gather at the temple from noon, 
and return home at night. The festival lasts for five 
days. Some of the neighbouring Sudras and Shanars 
also attend, and some Pulayars, who pay one chuckram 
for two shots of firework guns in fulfilment of their vows. 
Offerings here are generally made in return for relief from 
sickness or trouble of some kind. The pujari, or priest, 
is an Ilavan, who receives donations of money, rice, etc. 
A kind of mild hook-swinging ceremony is practised. 
On the occasion referred to, four boys, about fifteen or 
sixteen years of age, were brought. They must partly 
fast for five days previously on plain rice and vegetable 
curry, and are induced to consent to the operation, 
partly by superstitious fear, and partly by bribes. On 
the one hand they are threatened with worse danger if 
they do not fulfil the vows made by their parents to the 
devi (deity) ; on the other hand, if obedient, they receive 
presents of fine clothes and money. Dressed in hand- 
some cloths and turbans, and adorned with gold bracelets 


and armlets, and garlands of flowers, the poor boys 
are brought to present a little of their blood to the 
sanguinary goddess. Three times they march round the 
temple ; then an iron is run through the muscles of each 
side, and small rattans inserted through the wounds. 
Four men seize the ends of the canes, and all go round 
in procession, with music and singing and clapping of 
hands, five or seven times, according to their endurance, 
till quite exhausted. The pujari now dresses in a red 
cloth, with tinsel border, like a Brahman, takes the 
dancing-club in hand, and dances before the demon. 
Cocks are sacrificed, water being first poured upon the 
head ; when the bird shakes itself, the head is cut off, 
and the blood poured round the temple. Rice is boiled 
in one of the sheds in a new pot, and taken home with 
the fowls by the people for a feast in the house. At 
Mayanadu, the Bhagavathi of the small temple belonging 
to the Ilavars is regarded as the sister of the one 
worshipped in the larger temple used by the Sudras, 
and served by a Brahman priest ; and the cars of the 
latter are brought annually to the Ilavar's temple, and 
around it three times before returning to their own 
temple. At the Ilavar's temple, the same night, the 
women boil rice in new earthen pots, and the men offer 
sheep and fowls in sacrifice. In further illustration of 
the strange superstitious practices of this tribe, two more 
incidents may be mentioned. An Ilavatti, whose child 
was unwell, went to consult an astrologer, who informed 
her that the disease was caused by the spirit of the 
child's deceased grandmother. For its removal he would 
perform various incantations, for which he required the 
following, viz. : — water from seven wells, dung from five 
cowsheds, a larva of the myrmeleon, a crab, a frog, a 
green snake, a viral fish, parched rice, ada cake, 


cocoanut, chilly, and green palm leaves. An Ilavan, who 
had for some time been under Christian instruction, 
was led away by a brother, who informed him that, if he 
built a small temple for the worship of Nina Madan, and 
offered sacrifices, he should find a large copper vessel 
full of gold coins hid underground, and under the charge 
of this demon. The foolish man did so, but did not find 
a single cash. Now the lying brother avers that the 
demon will not be satisfied unless a human sacrifice is 
offered, which, of course, is impossible." 

The headmen of the Izhava caste are the Channans 
and Panikkans, invested with these titles by the Sover- 
eigns of this State who have been already referred to. 
The limits of their jurisdiction were generally fixed in 
the charters received from them by their rulers, and even 
to-day their authority remains supreme in all social 
matters. The priests, it may be noted, are only a minor 
class, having no judicial functions. Chief among the 
offences against the caste rules may be mentioned 
non-observance of pollution, illicit connection, non- 
performance of the tali-kettu before the age of puberty, 
non-employment of the village barber and washerman, 
non-celebration of ceremonies in one's own village, and 
so on. The headman comes to know of these through 
the agency of the village barber or washerman, and also 
a class of secondary dignitaries known as Kottilpattukar 
or Naluvitanmar. In every village, there are four 
families, invested with this authority in olden times by 
the rulers of the State on payment of fifty-nine fanams to 
the royal treasury. They are believed to hold a fourth 
of the authority that pertains to the chieftain of the 
village. If, on enquiry, an offence is proved, a fine is 
imposed on the offender, which he is obliged to pay to 
the local shrine. If the offence is grave, a feast has to 


be given by him to the villagers. In cases of failure, the 
services of the village priest and washerman, and also the 
barber, are refused, and the culprit becomes ostracised 
from society. The headman has to be paid a sum of ten 
chuckrams on all occasions of ceremonies, and the Nalu- 
vitanmar four chuckrams each. There is a movement 
in favour of educating the priests, and delegating some of 
the above powers to them. 

Three forms of inheritance may be said to prevail 
among the Izhavas of Travancore, viz. : (1) makkathayam 
(inheritance from father to son) in the extreme south ; 
(2) marumakkatayam (through the female line) in all 
taluks to the north of Quilon ; (3) a mixture of the two 
between Neyyatinkara and that taluk. According to the 
mixed mode, one's own children are not left absolutely 
destitute, but some portion of the property is given them 
for maintenance, in no case, however, exceeding a half. 
In families observing the marumakkatayam law, male 
and female heirs own equal rights. Partition, though 
possible when all consent, rarely takes place in practice, 
the eldest male member holding in his hands the manage- 
ment of the whole property. In Quilon and other 
places, the widow and her children are privileged to 
remain in her husband's house for full one year after his 
death, and enjoy all the property belonging to him. 

On the subject of inheritance, the Rev. S. Mateer 
writes as follows. " The nepotistic law of inheritance is, 
to a considerable extent, followed by this caste. Those 
in the far south being more closely connected with the 
Tamil people, their children inherit. Amongst the 
Ilavars in Trevandrum district, a curious attempt is made 
to unite both systems of inheritance, half the property 
acquired by a man after his marriage, and during the 
lifetime of his wife, going to the issue of such marriage, 


and half to the man's nepotistic heirs. In a case decided 
by the Sadr Court, in 1872, the daughter of an Ilavan 
claimed her share in the movable and immovable 
property of her deceased father, and to have a sale made 
by him while alive declared null and void to the extent 
of her share. As there was another similar heir, the 
Court awarded the claimant a half share, and to this 
extent the claim was invalidated. Their rules are thus 
stated by G. Kerala Varman Tirumulpad : — ' If one 
marries and gives cloth to an Ilavatti (female), and has 
issue, of the property acquired by him and her from the 
time of the union, one-tenth is deducted for the 
husband's labour or individual profit ; of the remainder, 
half goes to the woman and her children, and half to the 
husband and his heirs (anandaravans). The property 
which an Ilavan has inherited or earned before his 
marriage devolves solely to his anandaravans, not to his 
children. If an Ilavatti has continued to live with her 
husband, and she has no issue, or her children die before 
obtaining any share of the property, when the husband 
dies possessing property earned by both, his heirs and 
she must mutually agree, or the castemen decide what is 
fair for her support ; and the husband's heir takes the 
remainder.' " 

The marriage of Izhava girls consists of two distinct 
rites, one before they attain puberty called tali-kettu, 
and the other generally after that period, but in some 
cases before, called sambandham. It is, however, neces- 
sary that the girl must have her tali tied before some one 
contracts sambandham with her. The tali-tier may be, 
but often is not, as among the Nayars, the future husband 
of the girl. But, even for him, the relation will not be 
complete without a formal cloth presentation. The 
legitimate union for a person is with his maternal uncle's 


or paternal aunt's daughter. Generally there is a separate 
ceremony called Grihapravesam, or entrance into the 
house of the bridegroom after sambandham. Widows 
may contract alliances with other persons after the death 
of the first husband. In all cases, the Izhava husband 
takes his wife home, and considers it infra dig. to stay in 
the house of his father-in-law. 

The method of celebrating the tali-kettu differs in 
different parts of Travancore. The following is the form 
popular in Central Travancore. All the elderly members 
of the village assemble at the house of the girl, and fix 
a pillar of jack (Artocarpus integrifolia) wood at the 
south-east corner. On the Kaniyan (astrologer) being 
three times loudly consulted as to the auspiciousness of 
the house he gives an affirmative reply, and the guardian 
of the girl, receiving a silver ring from the goldsmith, 
hands it over to the Vatti (priest), who ties it on the 
wooden post. The carpenter, Kaniyan, and goldsmith 
receive some little presents. The next item in the 
programme is the preparation of the rice necessary for 
the marriage, and a quantity of paddy (unhusked rice) 
is brought by the girl to the pandal ground, and 
formally boiled in a pot. The pandal (booth) is generally 
erected on the south side of the house. The chartu, or 
a chit from the Kaniyan, certifying the auspiciousness of 
the match and the suitable date for its formal adoption, 
is taken by the guardian and four Machchampis or 
Inangans to the headman of the latter. These Mach- 
champis are Izhavas of the village, equal in status to the 
guardian of the girl. All the preliminary arrangements 
are now over, and, on the day previous to the marriage, 
the girl bathes, and, wearing the bleached cloths supplied 
by the Mannan (washerman), worships the local deity, 
and awaits the arrival of the bridegroom. In the 


evening, the wife of the Vatti applies oil to her hair, and 
after a bath the rite known as Kalati begins, as a 
preliminary to which a thread passing through a silver 
ring is tied round her right wrist. Kalati is recitation of 
various songs by the women of the village before the girl. 
This is followed by Kanjiramala, or placing the girl 
before a line of carved wooden images, and songs by the 
Vatti women. On the following day, the girl is intro- 
duced, at the auspicious hour, within the katirmandapa 
or raised platform decorated with sheaves of corn within 
the pandal. The minnu or marriage ornament, prepared 
by the goldsmith, is handed over to the priest, along with 
two cloths to be worn by the bride and bridegroom. A 
string is made of thread taken from these cloths, and 
the minnu attached to it. The mother-in-law of the 
bridegroom now stands ready at the gate, and, on his 
arrival, places a garland of flowers round his neck. The 
new cloths are then presented by the Vatti and his wife 
to the bridegroom and bride respectively, after some 
tender cocoanut leaves, emblematic of the established 
occupation of the caste, are thrust into the bridegroom's 
waist by the headman of the village. In former days, a 
sword took the place of these leaves. The minnu is 
then tied round the neck of the bride, and all parties, 
including the parent or guardian, give presents to the 
bridegroom. The day's ceremony is then over, and the 
bridegroom remains at the house of the bride. The 
string is removed from the bride's wrist by the Vatti on the 
fourth day, and the couple bathe. More than one girl 
may have the tali tied at the same time, provided that 
there are separate bridegrooms for them. Only boys 
from the families of Machchampis can become tali-tiers. 
The sambandham of North and Central Travancore 
differs from that of South Travancore in some material 


respects. In the former, on the appointed day, the 
bridegroom, who is a different person from the tali-tier, 
accompanied by his relations and friends, arrives at the 
bride's house, and the guardian of the former offers a 
sum of money to the guardian of the latter. A suit of 
clothes, with ten chuckrams or ten rasis (coins), is 
presented by the bridegroom to the bride, who stands in 
a room within and receives it, being afterwards dressed 
by his sister. The money goes by right to her mother, 
and is known as Ammayippanam. Now comes the time 
for the departure of the bride to her husband's house, 
when she receives from her guardian a nut-cracker, lime- 
can, a dish filled with rice, and a mat. A red cloth is 
thrown over her head, and a few members accompany 
the party for some distance. In South Travancore, the 
bridegroom is accompanied, besides others, by a com- 
panion, who asks in the midst of the assembly whether 
they assent to the proposed alliance, and, on their 
favourable reply, hands over a sum of money as an 
offering to the local shrine. Another sum is given for 
the maintenance of the bride, and, in the presence of the 
guardian, a suit of clothes is given to her by the bride- 
groom. The wife is, as elsewhere, immediately taken 
to the husband's house. This is called Kudivaippu, 
and corresponds to the Grahapravesam celebrated by 

The following account of marriage among the Izhavas 
of Malabar is given in the Gazetteer of that district. 
" A girl may be married before puberty, but the con- 
summation is not supposed to be effected till after 
puberty, though the girl may live with her husband at 
once. If the marriage is performed before puberty, the 
ceremony is apparently combined with the tali-kettu 
kalyanam. The bride is fetched from the devapura or 


family chapel with a silk veil over her head, and holding 
a betel leaf in her right hand in front of her face. She 
stands in the pandal on a plank, on which there is some 
rice. On her right stand four enangans of the bride- 
groom, and on her left four of her own. The elder of 
the bridegroom's enangans hands one of the bride's 
enangans a bundle containing the tali, a mundu and pava 
(cloths), some rice, betel leaves, and a coin called 
meymelkanam, which should be of gold and worth at 
least one rupee. All these are provided by the bride- 
groom. He next hands the tali to the bridegroom's 
sister, who ties it. After this, all the enangans scatter 
rice and flowers over the bride. In this caste, the claim 
of a man to the hand of his paternal aunt's daughter 
is recognised in the ceremony called padikkal tada 
(obstruction at the gate), which consists of a formal 
obstruction offered by eleven neighbours to the bride's 
removal, when she is not so related to her husband. 
They are bought off by a fee of two fanams, and a 
packet of betel leaf. The girl is then taken to the 
bridegroom's house. If very young, she is chaperoned 
by a female relative. On the fourth day there is a feast 
at the bridegroom's house called nalam kalyanam, and 
this concludes the ceremonies. Marriage after puberty 
is called Pudamari. The ceremonial is the same, but 
there is no padikkal tada." 

When an Izhava girl reaches puberty, the occasion 
is one for a four days' religious ceremonial. On the first 
day, the Vatti priestess anoints the girl with oil, and, 
after a bath, dresses her in the cloth supplied by the 
Mannatti (washerwoman). She is then laid on a broad 
wooden plank, and is supposed not to go out until she 
bathes on the fourth day. All the female relations of the 
family present her with sweetmeats. On the seventh 


day, she is again taken to and from the village tank 
(pond) with much eclat, and, on her return, she either 
treads on cloths spread on the floor, or is carried by an 
elderly woman. After this, she husks a quantity of 
paddy, and cooks the rice obtained thence. If this 
ceremony takes place at the house of a headman, the 
villagers present him with a vessel full of sugared rice. 

A two days' ceremonial, called Pulikudi in north 
Travancore, and Vayattu Pongala in the south, which 
corresponds to the Pumsavana of Brahmans, is observed 
at the seventh month of pregnancy. On the first day, 
at twilight in the evening, the pregnant woman, preceded 
by the priestess, proceeds to the foot of a tamarind tree 
on the southern side of the compound. Arriving there, 
she receives a thread seven yards in length, to which a 
silver ring is attached at one end, and, by means of 
circumambulation, entwines the tree with the thread. 
If the thread is by chance or inadvertence broken during 
this process, the popular belief is that either the mother 
or the child will die soon. Next day, the thread is 
unwound from the tree, and a handful of tamarind leaves 
is given to the woman by her husband. On re-entering 
the house, tamarind juice is poured through the hands 
of the husband into those of the wife, who drinks it. 
The priestess then pours a quantity of oil on the navel 
of the woman from a betel leaf, and, from the manner in 
which it flows down, it is believed that she is able to 
determine the sex of the unborn child. The woman has 
to lean against a cutting of an ambazham (Spondias 
mangiferd) tree while she is drinking the juice, and this 
cutting has to be planted in some part of the compound. 
If it does not grow properly, the adversity of the 
progeny is considered to be sealed. The husband is 
given a ring and other presents on this occasion, 


Women bathe on the third, fifth, and nineteenth day 
after delivery, and wear the mattu or changed cloth of 
the Mannatti, in order to be freed from pollution. The 
name-giving ceremony of the child takes place on the 
twenty-eighth day. It is decorated with a pair of iron 
anklets, and a ribbon passed through a few pieces of iron 
is tied round its waist. It is then held standing on a 
vessel filled with rice, and, its left ear being closed, a 
name is muttered by its guardian into the right ear. 
The first feeding ceremony is observed in the sixth 
month, when the iron ornaments are removed, and 
replaced by silver and gold ones. The ear-boring 
ceremony takes place at an auspicious hour on some day 
before the child attains its seventh year. 

In former times, only the eldest male member of a 
family was cremated, but no such restriction obtains at 
the present day. When a member of the community 
dies, three handfuls of rice are placed in the mouth of 
the corpse by the eldest heir after a bath, followed by 
the sons, nephews, and grandsons of the deceased. 
Every relative throws an unbleached cloth over the 
corpse, after which it is taken to the burning-ground, 
where the pyre is lighted by the heir with a consecrated 
torch handed to him by the priest. A wooden plank is 
furnished by the carpenter, and an impression of the 
foot of the deceased smeared with sandal paste is made 
on it. The name, and date of the death of the deceased, 
are inscribed thereon, and it has to be carefully preserved 
in the house of the heir. The record refreshes his 
memory on occasions of sradh (memorial service), etc. 
When the cremation is half completed, the contents of a 
tender cocoanut are placed beside the head of the corpse 
as an offering, and prayers are muttered. A pot full of 
water is then borne by the chief mourner on his shoulder 

J AD A 418 

thrice round the corpse. As he does so, the priest 
pricks the pot thrice with an iron instrument. Finally, 
the pot is broken on the pyre, and the chief mourner 
returns home without turning back and looking at the 
corpse. On the second day, an oblation of food (pinda) 
is offered to the departed. The inmates of the house 
are fed with conji (rice gruel) on this day by the 
relatives. The Sanchayana, or collection of bones, 
takes place on the fifth day. Pollution lasts for fifteen 
days in Central and North Travancore, but only for ten 
days in the south. There are some rites, not observed 
necessarily by all members of the caste, on the forty- 
first day, and at the end of the first year. Persons who 
have died of contagious diseases, women who die after 
conception or on delivery, and children under five years 
of age, are buried. Pollution is observed only for nine 
days when children die ; and, in the case of men who die 
of contagious disease, a special group of ceremonies is 
performed by the sorcerer. Those who are under pollu- 
tion, besides being forbidden to enter shrines and other 
sanctuaries, may not read or write, or partake of liquor, 
butter, milk, ghi, dhal, or jaggery. 

Jada.— Jada or Jandra, meaning great men, has 
been recorded as a synonym of Devanga and Kurni. 

Jaggali.— The Jaggalis are defined, in the Manual 
of the Ganjam district, as Uriya workers in leather in 
Ganjam. It is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 
1 90 1, that " the traditional occupation of this caste was 
apparently leatherworking, but now it is engaged in 
cultivation and miscellaneous labour. Its members 

419 JAIN 

speak both Oriya and Telugu. They admit outcastes 
from other communities to their ranks on payment of a 
small fee. Marriage is either infant or adult, and widows 
and divorcees may remarry. Satanis are employed as 
priests. They eat beef and pork, and drink alcohol. 
They bury their dead. In some places they work as 
syces (grooms), and in others as firewood-sellers and as 
labourers. Patro and Behara are their titles." It may, 
I think, be accepted that the Jaggalis are Telugu 
Madigas, who have settled in Ganjam, and learnt the 
Oriya language. It is suggested that the name is 
derived from the Oriya jagiba, watching, as some are 
village crop-watchers. 

Jaikonda (lizard). — A sept of Domb. 

Jain.—" Few," Mr. T. A. Gopinatha Rao writes,* 
" even among educated persons, are aware of the exist- 
ence of Jainas and Jaina centres in Southern India. 
The Madras Presidency discloses vestiges of Jaina 
dominion almost everywhere, and on many a roadside 
a stone Tirthankara, standing or sitting cross-legged, is 
a common enough sight. The present day interpreta- 
tions of these images are the same all over the Presi- 
dency. If the images are two, one represents a debtor 
and the other a creditor, both having met on the road, 
and waiting to get their accounts settled and cleared. 
If it is only one image, it represents a debtor paying 
penalty for not having squared up his accounts with his 

It is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1891, 
that "out of a total of 25,716 Jains, as many as 22,273 
have returned both caste and sub-division as Jain. The 
remainder have returned 22 sub-divisions, of which some, 

* Malabar Quart. Review, IV, 3, 1905. See also T. C. Rice. Jain Settle- 
ments in Karnata. Ibid., Ill, 4, 1 904. 
II-27 B 

JAIN 420 

such as Digambara and Swetambara, are sectarian rather 
than caste divisions, but others like Marvadi, Osval, 
Vellalan, etc., are distinct castes. And the returns also 
show that some Jains have returned well-known castes 
as their main castes, for we have Jain Brahmans, 
Kshatriyas, Gaudas, Vellalas, etc. The Jain Bants, 
however, have all returned Jain as their main caste." 
At the Madras census, 1901, 27,431 Jains were returned. 
Though they are found in nearly every district of the 
Madras Presidency, they occur in the largest number 
in the following : — 

South Canara ... ... ... ... 9,582 

North Arcot 8,128 

South Arcot ... ... ... ... 5,896 

At the Mysore census, 1901, 13,578 Jains were 
returned. It is recorded in the report that " the Digam- 
baras and Swetambaras are the two main divisions of 
the Jain faith. The root of the word Digambara means 
space clad or sky clad, i.e., nude, while Swetambara 
means clad in white. The Swetambaras are found more 
in Northern India, and are represented but by a small 
number in Mysore. The Digambaras are said to live 
absolutely separated from society, and from all wordly 
ties. These are generally engaged in trade, selling 
mostly brass and copper vessels, and are scattered all over 
the country, the largest number of them being found 
in Shimoga, Mysore, and Hassan districts. Sravana 
Belagola, in the Hassan district, is a chief seat of the 
Jains of the province. Tirthankaras are the priests of 
the Jain religion, and are also known as Pitambaras. 
The Jain Yatis or clergy here belong to the Digambara 
sect, and cover themselves with a yellow robe, and 
hence the name Pithambara." The Dasa Banajigas 
of Mysore style themselves Jaina Kshatriya Ramanujas. 

421 JAIN 

In connection with the terms Digambara and 
Swetambara, it is noted by Biihler* that " Digambara, 
that is those whose robe is the atmosphere, owe their 
name to the circumstance that they regard absolute 
nudity as the indispensable sign of holiness, though the 
advance of civilization has compelled them to depart 
from the practice of their theory. The Swetambara, 
that is they who are clothed in white, do not claim 
this doctrine, but hold it as possible that the holy ones 
who clothe themselves may also attain the highest goal. 
They allow, however, that the founder of the Jaina 
religion and his first disciples disdained to wear clothes." 

The most important Jain settlement in Southern 
India at the present day is at Sravana Belagola in 
Mysore, where the Jains are employed in the manufac- 
ture of metal vessels for domestic use. The town is 
situated at the base of two hills, on the summit of one 
of which, the Indra Betta, is the colossal statue of 
Gomatesvara, Gummatta, or Gomata Raya,t concerning 
which Mr. L. Rice writes as follows.^ " The image is 
nude, and stands erect, facing the north. The figure 
has no support above the thighs. Up to that point it 
is represented as surrounded by ant-hills, from which 
emerge serpents. A climbing plant twines itself round 
both legs and both arms, terminating at the upper part 
of the arm in a cluster of fruit or berries. The pedestal 
on which the feet stand is carved to represent an open 
lotus. The hair is in spiral ringlets, flat to the head, as 
usual in Jain images, and the lobe of the ears lengthened 
down with a large rectangular hole. The extreme 

* On the Indian Sect of the Jainas. Translation by J. Burgess, 1903. 

t The earlier Tirthankaras are believed to have been of prodigious proportions, 
and to have lived fabulously long lives, but the later ones were of more ordinary 
stature and longevity. 

% Inscriptions at Sravana Belagola. Archaeological Survey of Mysore, 1889. 

JAIN 422 

height of the figure may be stated at 57 feet, though 
higher estimates have been given — 60 feet 3 inches by 
Sir Arthur Wellesley (afterwards Duke of Wellington), 
and 70 feet 3 inches by Buchanan." Of this figure, 
Fergusson writes * that " nothing grander or more 
imposing exists anywhere out of Egypt, and even there 
no known statue surpasses it in height, though, it must 
be confessed, they do excel it in the perfection of art 
they exhibit." 

Other colossal statues of Gummata are situated on the 
summit of hills outside the towns of Karkal and Venur 
or Yenur in South Canara. Concerning the former, 
Dr. E. Hultzsch writes as follows. t " It is a mono- 
lith consisting of the figure itself, of a slab against 
which it leans, and which reaches up to the wrists, and 
of a round pedestal which is sunk into a thousand- 
petalled lotus flower. The legs and arms of the figure 
are entwined with vines (draksha). On both sides of the 
feet, a number of snakes are cut out of the slab against 
which the image leans. Two inscriptions j on the sides 
of the same slab state that this image of Bahubalin 
or Gummata Jinapati was set up by a chief named 
Vira-Pandya, the son of Bhairava, in A.D. 1431-32. An 
inscription of the same chief is engraved on a graceful 
stone pillar in front of the outer gateway. This pillar 
bears a seated figure of Brahmadeva, a chief of Patti- 
pombuchcha, the modern Humcha in Mysore, who, like 
Vira-Pandya, belonged to the family of Jinadatta, built 
the Chaturmukha basti in A.D. 1586-87. As its name 
(chaturmukha, the four-faced) implies, this temple has 

* History of Indian and Eastern Architecture, 
t Annual Report on Epigraphy, Madras, 1900-1901. 

J The inscriptions on the three Jaina Colossi of Southern India have be«n 
published by Dr. Hultzsch in Epigraphia Indica, VII, 1902-1903. 


423 JAIN 

four doors, each of which opens on three black stone 
figures of the three Tirthankaras Ari, Malli, and 
Munisuvrata. Each of the figures has a golden aureole 
over the head." According to a legend recorded by 
Mr. M. J. Walhouse,* the Karkal statue, when finished, 
was raised on to a train of twenty iron carts furnished 
with steel wheels, on each of which ten thousand 
propitiatory cocoanuts were broken and covered with an 
infinity of cotton. It was then drawn by legions of 
worshippers up an inclined plane to the platform on the 
hill-top where it now stands. 

The legend of Kalkuda, who is said to have made 
the colossal statue at " Belgula, 1 ' is narrated at length 
by Mr. A. C. Burnell.f Told briefly, the story is as 
follows. Kalkuda made a Gummata two cubits higher 
than at Belur. Bairanasuda, King of Karkal, sent for 
him to work in his kingdom. He made the Gummata- 
sami. Although five thousand people were collected 
together, they were not able to raise the statue. 
Kalkuda put his left hand under it, and raised it, and set 
it upright on a base. He then said to the king " Give 
me my pay, and the present that you have to give to 
me. It is twelve years since I left my house, and came 
here." But the king said " I will not let Kalkuda, who 
has worked in my kingdom, work in another country," 
and cut off his left hand and right leg. Kalkuda then 
went to Timmanajila, king of Yenur, and made a 
Gummata two cubits higher than that at Karkal. 

In connection with the figure at Sravana Belagola, 
Fergusson suggests J that the hill had a mass or tor 
standing on its summit, which the Jains fashioned into a 

* Ind. Ant., V, 1876. t Ind, Ant,, XXV, 220, sq., 1896. % Op. cit. 

JAIN 424 

The high priest of the Jain basti at Karkal in 1907 
gave as his name Lalitha Kirthi Bhattaraka Pattacharya 
Variya Jiyaswamigalu. His full-dress consisted of a 
red and gold-embroidered Benares body-cloth, red and 
gold turban, and, as a badge of office, a brush of 
peacock's feathers mounted in a gold handle, carried in 
his hand. On ordinary occasions, he carried a similar 
brush mounted in a silver handle. The abhishekam 
ceremony is performed at Karkal at intervals of many 
years. A scaffold is erected, and over the colossal 
statue are poured water, milk, flowers, cocoanuts, sugar, 
jaggery, sugar-candy, gold and silver flowers, fried 
rice, beans, gram, sandal paste, nine kinds of precious 
stones, etc. 

Concerning the statue at Yenur, Mr. Walhouse 
writes* that "it is lower than the Karkala statue (41 J 
feet), apparently by three or four feet. It resembles 
its brother colossi in all essential particulars, but has the 
special peculiarity of the cheeks being dimpled with a 
deep grave smile. The salient characteristics of all these 
colossi are the broad square shoulders, and the thickness 
and remarkable length of the arms, the tips of the 
fingers, like Rob Roy's, nearly reaching the knees. 
[One of Sir Thomas Munro's good qualities was that, 
like Rama, his arms reached to his knees or, in other 
words, he possessed the quality of an Ajanubahu, which 
is the heritage of kings, or those who have blue blood 
in them.] Like the others, this statue has the lotus 
enwreathing the legs and arms, or, as Dr. Burnell 
suggests, it may be jungle creepers, typical of wrapt 
meditation. [There is a legend that Bahubalin was so 
absorbed in meditation in a forest that climbing plants 

* Loc. cii. 





425 JAIN 

grew over him.] A triple-headed cobra rises up under 
each hand, and there are others lower down." 

" The village of Mudabidure in the South Canara 
district," Dr. Hultzsch writes, "is the seat of a Jaina 
high priest, who bears the title Charukirti-Pandita- 
charya-Svamin. He resides in a matha, which is 
known to contain a large library of Jaina manuscripts. 
There are no less than sixteen Jaina temples (basti) at 
Mudabidure. Several of them are elaborate buildings 
with massive stone roofs, and are surrounded by laterite 
enclosures. A special feature of this style of architecture 
is a lofty monolithic column called manastambha, which 
is set up in front of seven of the bastis. In two of them 
a flagstaff (dhvajastambha), which consists of wood 
covered with copper, is placed between the manastambha 
and the shrine. Six of them are called Settarabasti, and 
accordingly must have been built by Jaina merchants 
(Setti). The sixteen bastis are dedicated to the follow- 
ing Tirthankaras : — Chandranatha or Chandraprabha, 


Neminatha, Parsvanatha, Adinatha, Mallinatha, Padma- 
prabha, Anantanatha, Vardhamana, and Santinatha. In 
two of these bastis are separate shrines dedicated to all 
the Tirthankaras, and in another basti the shrines of two 
Yakshis. The largest and finest is the Hosabasti, i.e., 
the new temple, which is dedicated to Chandranatha, 
and was built in A.D. 1429-30. It possesses a double 
enclosure, a very high manastambha, and a sculptured 
gateway. The uppermost storey of the temple con- 
sists of wood-work. The temple is composed of the 
shrine (garbagriha), and three rooms in front of it, viz., 
the Tirthakaramandapa, the Gaddigemandapa, and the 
Chitramandapa. In front of the last-mentioned mandapa 
is a separate building called Bhairadevimandapa, which 
was built in A.D. 1451-52. Round its base runs a 

JAIN 426 

band of sculptures, among which the figure of a giraffe 
deserves to be noted. The idol in the dark innermost 
shrine is said to consist of five metals (pancha-loha), 
among which silver predominates. The basti next in 
importance is the Gurugalabasti, where two ancient 
talipot (sritalam) copies of the Jaina Siddhanta are 
preserved in a box with three locks, the keys of which 
are in charge of three different persons. The minor 
bastis contain three rooms, viz., the Garbhagriha, the 
Tlrthakaramandapa, and the Namaskaramandapa. One 
of the sights of Mudabidire is the ruined palace of 
the Chautar, a local chief who follows the Jaina creed, 
and is in receipt of a pension from the Government. 
The principal objects of interest at the palace are a 
few nicely-carved wooden pillars. Two of them 
bear representations of the pancha-narfturaga, i.e., the 
horse composed of five women, and the nava-narl-kunjara, 
i.e., the elephant composed of nine women. These are 
fantastic animals, which are formed by the bodies of a 
number of shepherdesses for the amusement of their 
Lord Krishna. The Jains are divided into two classes, 
viz., priests (indra) and laymen (srivaka). The former 
consider themselves as Brahmanas by caste. All the 
Jainas wear the sacred thread. The priests dine with the 
laymen, but do not intermarry with them. The former 
practice the makkalasantana, i.e., the inheritance through 
sons, and the latter aliya-santana, i.e., the inheritance 
through nephews. The Jainas are careful to avoid 
pollution from contact with outcastes, who have to get 
out of their way in the road, as I noticed myself. A 
Jaina marriage procession, which I saw passing, was 
accompanied by Hindu dancing-girls. Near the western 
end of the street in which most of the Jainas live, a curious 
spectacle presents itself. From a number of high trees, 



427 JAIN 

thousands of flying foxes [fruit-bat, Pteropus medius] 
are suspended. They have evidently selected the spot 
as a residence, because they are aware that the Jainas, 
in pursuance of one of the chief tenets of their religion, 
do not harm any animals. Following the same street 
further west, the Jaina burial-ground is approached. 
It contains a large ruined tank with laterite steps, and a 
number of tombs of wealthy Jain merchants. These 
tombs are pyramidal structures of several storeys, and 
are surmounted by a water-pot (kalasa) of stone. Four 
of the tombs bear short epitaphs. The Jainas cremate 
their dead, placing the corpse on a stone in order to 
avoid taking the life of any stray insect during the 

In their ceremonials, e.g., marriage rites, the Jains 
of South Canara closely follow the Bants. They are 
worshippers of bhuthas (devils), and, in some houses, a 
room called padoli is set apart, in which the bhutha is 
kept. When they make vows, animals are not killed, 
but they offer metal images of fowls, goats, or pigs. 

Of the Jains of the North Arcot district, Mr. H. A. 
Stuart writes * that " more than half of them are found 
in the Wandiwash taluk, and the rest in Arcot and Polur. 
Their existence in this neighbourhood is accounted for 
by the fact that a Jain dynasty reigned for many years in 
Conjeeveram. They must at one time have been very 
numerous, as their temples and sculptures are found in 
very many places, from which they themselves have now 
disappeared. They have most of the Brahman cere- 
monies, and wear the sacred thread, but look down upon 
Brahmans as degenerate followers of an originally pure 
faith. For this reason they object generally to accepting 

* Manual of the North Arcot district, 

JAIN 428 

ghee (clarified butter) or jaggery (crude sugar), etc., 
from any but those of their own caste. They are defiled 
by entering a Pariah village, and have to purify them- 
selves by bathing and assuming a new thread. The 
usual caste affix is Nainar, but a few, generally strangers 
from other districts, are called Rao, Chetti, Das, or 

At Pillapalaiyam, a suburb of Conjeeveram in the 
Chingleput district, is a Jain temple of considerable 
artistic beauty. It is noted by Sir M. E. Grant Duff* 
that this is ,c left unfinished, as it would seem, by the 
original builders, and adapted later to the Shivite 
worship. Now it is abandoned by all its worshippers, 
but on its front stands the census number 9-A — 
emblematic of the new order of things." 

Concerning the Jains of the South Arcot district, 
Mr. W. Francis writes f that " there is no doubt that in 
ancient days the Jain faith was powerful in this district. 
The Periya Puranam says that there was once a Jain 
monastery and college at Pataliputra, the old name for 
the modern Tirupapuliyur, and remains of Jain images 
and sculptures are comparatively common in the district. 
The influence of the religion doubtless waned in conse- 
quence of the great Saivite revival, which took place in 
the early centuries of the present era, and the Periya 
Puranam gives a story in connection therewith, which is 
of local interest. It says that the Saivite poet-saint 
Appar was at one time a student in the Jain college at 
Pataliputra, but was converted to Saivism in consequence 
of the prayers of his sister, who was a devotee of the 
deity in the temple at Tiruvadi near Panruti. The local 
king was a Jain, and was at first enraged with Appar 

* Notes from a Diary, 1881-86., f Gazetteer of the South Arcot district. 

429 JAIN 

for his fervent support of his new faith. But eventually 
he was himself induced by Appar to become a Saivite, 
and he then turned the Paliputra monastery into a temple 
to Siva, and ordered the extirpation of all Jains. Later 
on there was a Jain revival, but this in its turn was 
followed by another persecution of the adherents of that 
faith. The following story connected with this latter 
occurs in one of the Mackenzie Manuscripts, and is 
supported by existing tradition. In 1478 A.D., the ruler 
of Gingee was one Venkatampettai, Venkatapati,* who 
belonged to the comparatively low caste of the Kavarais. 
He asked the local Brahmans to give him one of their 
daughters to wife. They said that, if the Jains would do 
so, they would follow suit. Venkatapati told the Jains 
of this answer, and asked for one of their girls as a bride. 
They took counsel among themselves how they might 
avoid the disgrace of connecting themselves by marriage 
with a man of such a caste, and at last pretended to agree 
to the king's proposal, and said that the daughter of a 
certain prominent Jain would be given him. On the day 
fixed for the marriage, Venkatapati went in state to the 
girl's house for the ceremony, but found it deserted and 
empty, except for a bitch tied to one of the posts of the 
verandah. Furious at the insult, he issued orders to 
behead all Jains. Some of the faith were accordingly 
decapitated, others fled, others again were forced to prac- 
tice their rites secretly, and yet others became Saivites to 
escape death. Not long afterwards, some of the king's 
officers saw a Jain named Virasenacharya performing the 
rites peculiar to his faith in a well in Velur near Tindi- 
vanam, and hailed him before their master. The latter, 
however, had just had a child born to him, was in a good 

* Local oral tradition gives his name as Dupila Kistnappa Nayak, 

JAIN 430 

temper, and let the accused go free ; and Virasenacharya, 
sobered by his narrow escape from death, resolved to 
become an ascetic, went to Sravana Belgola, and there 
studied the holy books of the Jain religion. Meanwhile 
another Jain of the Gingee country, Gangayya Udaiyar 
of Tayanur in the Tindivanam taluk, had fled to the 
protection of the Zamindar of Udaiyarpalaiyam in Trichi- 
nopoly, who befriended him and gave him some land. 
Thus assured of protection, he went to Sravana Belgola, 
fetched back Virasenacharya, and with him made a tour 
through the Gingee country, to call upon the Jains who 
remained there to return to their ancient faith. These 
people had mostly become Saivites, taken off their 
sacred threads and put holy ashes on their foreheads, and 
the name Nirpusi Vellalas, or the Vellalas who put on 
holy ash, is still retained. The mission was successful, 
and Jainism revived. Virasenacharya eventually died at 
Velur, and there, it is said, is kept in a temple a^etal 
image of Parsvanatha, one of the twenty-four Tirthan- 
karas, which he brought from Sravana Belgola. The 
descendants of Gangayya Udaiyar still live in Tayanur, 
and, in memory of the services of their ancestor to the Jain 
cause, they are given the first betel and leaf on festive 
occasions, and have a leading voice in the election of the 
high-priest at Sittamur in the Tindivanam taluk. This 
high-priest, who is called Mahadhipati, is elected by 
representatives from the chief Jain villages. These 
are, in Tindivanam taluk, Sittamur itself, Viranamur, 
Vilukkam, Peramandur, Alagramam, and the Velur 
and Tayanur already mentioned. The high-priest has 
supreme authority over all Jains south of Madras, but not 
over those in Mysore or South Canara, with whom the 
South Arcot community have no relations. He travels 
round in a palanquin with a suite of followers to the 

431 JAIN 

chief centres — his expenses being paid by the communities 
he visits — settles caste disputes, and fines, and excom- 
municates the erring. His control over his people is 
still very real, and is in strong contrast to the waning 
authority of many of the Hindu gurus. The Jain 
community now holds a high position in Tindivanam 
taluk, and includes wealthy traders and some of quite the 
most intelligent agriculturists there. The men use the 
title of Nayinaror Udaiyar, but their relations in Kumba- 
konam and elsewhere in that direction sometimes call 
themselves Chetti or Mudaliyar. The women are great 
hands at weaving mats from the leaves of the date-palm. 
The men, except that they wear the thread, and paint 
on their foreheads a sect-mark which is like the ordinary 
Vaishnavite mark, but square instead of semi-circular at 
the bottom, and having a dot instead of a red streak in 
the middle, in general appearance resemble Vellalas. 
They are usually clean shaved. The women dress like 
Vellalas, and wear the same kind of tali (marriage 
emblem) and other jewellery. The South Arcot Jains 
all belong to the Digambara sect, and the images in their 
temples of the twenty-four Tirthankaras are accordingly 
without clothing. These temples, the chief of which are 
those at Tirunirankonrai * and Sittamur, are not markedly 
different in external appearance from Hindu shrines, 
but within these are images of some of the Tirthankaras, 
made of stone or of painted clay, instead of representations 
of the Hindu deities. The Jain rites of public worship 
much resemble those of the Brahmans. There is the 
same bathing of the god with sacred oblations, sandal, 
and so on ; the same lighting and waving of lamps, and 
burning of camphor ; and the same breaking of cocoanuts, 

* Also known as Jaina Tirupati. 

JAIN 432 

playing of music, and reciting of sacred verses. These 
ceremonies are performed by members of the Archaka 
or priest class. The daily private worship in the houses 
is done by the laymen themselves before a small image 
of one of the Tirthankaras, and daily ceremonies 
resembling those of the Brahmans, such as the pronoun- 
cing of the sacred mantram at daybreak, and the recital 
of forms of prayer thrice daily, are observed. The Jains 
believe in the doctrine of re-births, and hold that the 
end of all is Nirvana. They keep the Sivaratri and 
Dipavali feasts, but say that they do so, not for the 
reasons which lead Hindus to revere these dates, but 
because on them the first and the last of the twenty-four 
Tirthankaras attained beatitude. Similarly they observe 
Pongal and the Ayudha puja day. They adhere closely 
to the injunctions of their faith prohibiting the taking 
of life, and, to guard themselves from unwittingly 
infringing them, they do not eat or drink at night lest 
they might thereby destroy small insects which had got 
unseen into their food. For the same reason, they filter 
through a cloth all milk or water which they use, eat 
only curds, ghee and oil which they have made them- 
selves with due precautions against the taking of insect 
life, or known to have been similarly made by other Jains, 
and even avoid the use of shell chunam (lime). The 
Vedakkarans (shikari or hunting caste) trade on these 
scruples by catching small birds, bringing them to Jain 
houses, and demanding money to spare their lives. 
The Jains have four sub-divisions, namely, the ordinary 
laymen, and three priestly classes. Of the latter, the 
most numerous are the Archakas (or Vadyars). They 
do the worship in the temples. An ordinary layman 
cannot become an Archaka ; it is a class apart. An 
Archaka can, however, rise to the next higher of the 

433 JAIN 

priestly classes, and become what is called an Annam 
or Annuvriti, a kind of monk who is allowed to marry, 
but has to live according to certain special rules of con- 
duct. These Annams can again rise to the highest of 
the three classes, and become Nirvanis or Munis, monks 
who lead a celibate life apart from the world. There 
is also a sisterhood of nuns, called Aryanganais, who 
are sometimes maidens, and sometimes women who 
have left their husbands, but must in either case take a 
vow of chastity. The monks shave their heads, and 
dress in red ; the nuns similarly shave, but wear white. 
Both of them carry as marks of their condition a brass 
vessel and a bunch of peacock's feathers, with which 
latter they sweep clean any place on which they sit 
down, lest any insect should be there. To both classes 
the other Jains make namaskaram (respectful salutation) 
when they meet them, and both are maintained at the 
cost of the rest of the community. The laymen among 
the Jains will not intermarry, though they will dine with 
the Archakas, and these latter consequently have the 
greatest trouble in procuring brides for their sons, and 
often pay Rs. 200 or Rs. 300 to secure a suitable match. 
Otherwise there are no marriage sub-divisions among 
the community, all Jains south of Madras freely inter- 
marrying. Marriage takes place either before or after 
puberty. Widows are not allowed to remarry, but are 
not required to shave their heads until they are middle- 
aged. The dead are burnt, and the death pollution 
lasts for twelve days, after which period purification is 
performed, and the parties must go to the temple. 
Jains will not eat with Hindus. Their domestic 
ceremonies, such as those of birth, marriage, death and 
so on resemble generally those of the Brahmans. A 
curious difference is that, though the girls never wear 

JAIN 434 

the thread, they are taught the thread-wearing mantram, 
amid all the ceremonies usual in the case of boys, when 
they are about eight years old." 

It is recorded, in the report on Epigraphy, 1906- 
1907, that at Eyil in the South Arcot district the Jains 
asked the Collector for permission to use the stones of 
the Siva temple for repairing their own. The Collector 
called upon the Hindus to put the Siva temple in order 
within a year, on pain of its being treated as an escheat. 
Near the town of Madura is a large isolated mass 
of naked rock, which is known as Anaimalai (elephant 
hill). " The Madura Sthala Purana says it is a petrified 
elephant. The Jains of Conjeeveram, says this chro- 
nicle, tried to convert the Saivite people of Madura to 
k he Jain faith. Finding the task difficult, they had 
recourse to magic. They dug a great pit ten miles long, 
performed a sacrifice thereon, and thus caused a huge 
elephant to arise from it. This beast they sent against 
Madura. It advanced towards the town, shaking the 
whole earth at every step, with the Jains marching 
close behind it. But the Pandya king invoked the aid 
of Siva, and the god arose and slew the elephant with 
his arrow at the spot where it now lies petrified."* 

In connection with the long barren rock near 
Madura called Nagamalai (snake hill), " local legends 
declare that it is the remains of a huge serpent, brought 
into existence by the magic arts of the Jains, which was 
only prevented by the grace of Siva from devouring the 
fervently Saivite city it so nearly approaches." t Two 
miles south of Madura is a small hill of rock named 
Pasumalai. "The name means cow hill, and the legend 
in the Madura Sthala Purana says that the Jains, being 

* Gazetteer of the Madura district. f Ibid. 

435 JAIN 

defeated in their attempt to destroy Madura by means 
of the serpent which was turned into the Nagamalai, 
resorted to more magic, and evolved a demon in the 
form of an enormous cow. They selected this particular 
shape for their demon, because they thought that no one 
would dare kill so sacred an animal. Siva, however, 
directed the bull which is his vehicle to increase vastly 
in size, and go to meet the cow. The cow, seeing him, 
died of love, and was turned into this hill." 

On the wall of the mantapam of the golden lotus 
tank (pothamarai) of the Minakshi temple at Madura is 
a series of frescoes illustrating the persecution of the 
Jains. For the following account thereof, I am indebted 
to Mr. K. V. Subramania Aiyar. Sri Gnana Sam- 
mandha Swami, who was an avatar or incarnation of 
Subramaniya, the son of Siva, was the foremost of the 
sixty-three canonised saints of the Saivaite religion, and 
a famous champion thereof. He was sent into the world 
by Siva to put down the growing prevalence of the 
Jaina heresy, and to re-establish the Saivite faith in 
Southern India. He entered on the execution of his 
earthly mission at the age of three, when he was suckled 
with the milk of spirituality by Parvati, Siva's consort. 
He manifested himself first at the holy place Shiyali in 
the present Tanjore district to a Brahman devotee named 
Sivapathabja Hirthaya and his wife, who were after- 
wards reputed to be his parents. During the next 
thirteen years, he composed about sixteen thousand 
thevaram (psalms) in praise of the presiding deity at 
the various temples which he visited, and performed 
miracles. Wherever he went, he preached the Saiva 
philosophy, and made converts. At this time, a certain 
Koon (hunch-back) Pandyan was ruling over the Madura 
country, where, as elsewhere, Jainism had asserted its 
n-28 B 

JAIN 436 

influence, and he and all his subjects had become con- 
verts to the new faith. The queen and the prime- 
minister, however, were secret adherents to the cult of 
Siva, whose temple was deserted and closed. They 
secretly invited Sri Gnana Sammandha to the capital, 
in the hope that he might help in extirpating the 
followers of the obnoxious Jain religion. He accord- 
ingly arrived with thousands of followers, and took up 
his abode in a mutt or monastery on the north side of 
the Vaigai river. When the Jain priests, who were 
eight thousand in number, found this out, they set fire 
to his residence with a view to destroying him. His 
disciples, however, extinguished the flames. The saint, 
resenting the complicity of the king in the plot, willed 
that the fire should turn on him, and burn him in the 
form of a virulent fever. All the endeavours of the Jain 
priests to cure him with medicines and incantations 
failed. The queen and the prime-minister impressed 
on the royal patient the virtues of the Saiva saint, and 
procured his admission into the palace. When Sam- 
mandha Swami offered to cure the king by simply 
throwing sacred ashes on him, the Jain priests who 
were present contended that they must still be given a 
chance. So it was mutually agreed between them that 
each party should undertake to cure half the body of 
the patient. The half allotted to Sammandha was at 
once cured, while the fever raged with redoubled sever- 
ity in the other half. The king accordingly requested 
Sammandha to treat the rest of his body, and ordered 
the Jaina priests to withdraw from his presence. The 
touch of Sammandha's hand, when rubbing the sacred 
ashes over him, cured not only the fever, but also the 
hunched back. The king now looked so graceful that 
he was thenceforward called Sundara (beautiful) Pandyan. 

437 JAIN 

He was re-converted to Saivism, the doors of the Siva 
temple were re-opened, and the worship of Siva therein 
was restored. The Jain priests, not satisfied with their 
discomfiture, offered to establish the merits of their 
religion in other ways. They suggested that each party 
should throw the cadjan (palm -leaf) books containing 
the doctrines of their respective religions into a big fire, 
and that the party whose books were burnt to ashes 
should be considered defeated. The saint acceding to the 
proposal, the books were thrown into the fire, with the 
result that those flung by Sammandha were uninjured, 
while no trace of the Jain books remained. Still not 
satisfied, the Jains proposed that the religious books 
of both parties should be cast into the flooded Vaigai 
river, and that the party whose books travelled against 
the current should be regarded as victorious. The 
Jains promised Sammandha that, if they failed in this 
trial, they would become his slaves, and serve him in 
any manner he pleased. But Sammandha replied : 
" We have already got sixteen thousand disciples to 
serve us. You have profaned the name of the supreme 
Siva, and committed sacrilege by your aversion to the 
use of his emblems, such as sacred ashes and beads. 
So your punishment should be commensurate with your 
vile deeds." Confident of success, the Jains offered to 
be impaled on stakes if they lost. The trial took place, 
and the books of the Saivites travelled up stream. 
Sammandha then gave the Jains a chance of escape by 
embracing the Saiva faith, to which some of them 
became converts. The number thereof was so great 
that the available supply of sacred ashes was exhausted. 
Such of the Jains as remained unconverted were impaled 
on stakes resembling a sula or trident. It may be noted 
that, in the Mahabharata, Rishi Mandaviar is said to 


have been impaled on a stake on a false charge of theft. 
And Ramanuja, the Guru of the Vaishnavites, is also 
said to have impaled heretics on stakes in the Mysore 
province. The events recorded in the narrative of 
Sammandha and the Jains are gone through at five of 
the twelve annual festivals at the Madura temple. On 
these occasions, which are known as impaling festival 
days, an image representing a Jain impaled on a stake 
is carried in procession. According to a tradition the 
villages of Mela Kilavu and Kil Kilavu near Solavandan 
are so named because the stakes (kilavu) planted for 
the destruction of the Jains in the time of Tirugnana 
extended so far from the town of Madura. 

For details of the literature relating to the Jains, I 
would refer the reader to A. Guerinot's ' Essai de 
Bibliographic Jaina,' Annales du Musee Guimet, Paris, 

Jain Vaisya.— The name assumed by a small colony 
of " Banians," who have settled in Native Cochin. They 
are said * to frequent the kalli (stone) pagoda in the 
Kannuthnad taluk of North Travancore, and believe 
that he who proceeds thither a sufficiently large number 
of times obtains salvation. Of recent years, a figure of 
Brahma is said to have sprung up of itself on the top 
of the rock, on which the pagoda is situated. 

Jakkula.— Described t as an inferior class of prosti- 
tutes, mostly of the Balija caste ; and as wizards and a 
dancing and theatrical caste. At Tenali, in the Kistna 
district, it was customary for each family to give up one 
girl for prostitution. She was " married " to any chance 
comer for one night with the usual ceremonies. Under 
the influence of social reform, the members of the caste, 

• N. Sunkuni Wariar. Ind. Ant., XXI, 1892. 
f Madras Census Report, 1901 ; Nellore Manual. 


in 1 90 1, entered into a written agreement to give up 
the practice. A family went back on this, so the head 
of the caste prosecuted the family and the " husband " 
for disposing of a minor for the purpose of prostitution. 
The records state that it was resolved, in 1901, that they 
should not keep the females as girls, but should marry 
them before they attain puberty. " As the deeds of the 
said girls not only brought discredit on all of us, but 
their association gives our married women also an 
opportunity to contract bad habits, and, as all of our 
castemen thought it good to give up henceforth the 
custom of leaving girls unmarried now in vogue, all of 
us convened a public meeting in the Tenali village, 
considered carefully the pros and cons, and entered into 
the agreement herein mentioned. If any person among 
us fail to marry the girls in the families before puberty, 
the managing members of the families of the girls 
concerned should pay Rs. 500 to the three persons 
whom we have selected as the headmen of our caste, as 
penalty for acting in contravention of this agreement. 
If any person does not pay the headmen of the caste 
the penalty, the headmen are authorised to recover the 
amount through Court. We must abstain from taking 
meals, living, or intermarriage with such of the families 
as do not now join with us in this agreement, and 
continue to keep girls unmarried. We must not take 
meals or intermarry with those that are now included 
in this agreement, but who hereafter act in contraven- 
tion of it. If any of us act in contravention of the terms 
of the two last paragraphs, we should pay a penalty of 
Rs. 50 to the headmen." 

Jalagadugu. — Defined, by Mr. C. P. Brown, # as 
"a caste of gold-finders, who search for gold in drains, 

* Telugu Dictionary. 


and in the sweepings of goldsmiths' shops." A modest 
livelihood is also obtained, in some places, by extracting 
gold from the bed of rivers or nullahs (water-courses). 
The name is derived from jala, water, gadugu, wash. 
The equivalent Jalakara is recorded, in the Bellary 
Gazetteer, as a sub-division of Kabbera. 

In the city of Madras, gold-washers are to be found 
working in the foul side drains in front of jewellers' shops. 
The Health Officer to the Corporation informs me that 
he often chases them, and breaks their'pots for obstruct- 
ing public drains in their hunt for pieces of gold and 
other metals. 

For the following note on the gold-washers of 
Madras, I am indebted to Dr. K. T. Mathew : " This 
industry is carried on in the city by the Oddars, and was 
practically monopolised by them till a few years back, 
when other castes, mostly of the lower orders, stepped in. 
The Oddars now form a population of several thousands 
in the city, their chief occupation being conservancy 
cooly work. The process of gold washing is carried out 
by women at home, and by the aged and adults in their 
spare hours. The ashes, sweepings, and refuse from the 
goldsmiths' shops are collected on payment of a sum 
ranging from one rupee to ten rupees per mensem, and 
are brought in baskets to a convenient place alongside 
their huts, where they are stored for a variable time. 
The drain silts from streets where there are a large 
number of jewellers' shops are similarly collected, but, in 
this case, the only payment to be made is a present to 
the Municipal peon. The materials so collected are left 
undisturbed for a few days or several months, and this 
storing away for a time is said to be necessary to facilitate 
the extraction of the gold, as any immediate attempt to 
wash the stuff results in great loss in the quantity 


obtained. From the heap as much as can be taken on 
an ordinary spade is put into a boat-shaped tub open at 
one end, placed close to the heap, and so arranged that 
the waste water from the tub flows away from the heap 
behind, and collects in a shallow pool in front. The 
water from the pool is collected in a small chatty (earthen 
vessel), and poured over the heap in the tub, which is 
continually stirred up with the other hand. All the 
lighter stuff in this way flows out of the tub, and all the 
hard stones are every now and then picked out and 
thrown away. This process goes on until about a couple 
of handfuls of dark sand, etc., are left in the tub. To 
this a small quantity of mercury is added, briskly rubbed 
for a minute or two, and the process of washing goes 
on, considerable care being taken to see that no particle 
of mercury escapes, until at last the mercury, with a great 
many particles of metallic dust attached, is collected in 
a small chatty — often a broken piece of a pot. The 
mercury, with the metallic particles in it, is then well 
washed with clean water, and put into a tiny bag formed 
of two layers of a piece of rag. The mass is then gently 
pressed until all the mercury falls into a chatty below, 
leaving a small flattened mass of dark substance in the 
bag, which is carefully collected, and kept in another dry 
chatty. The washing process is repeated until enough 
of the dark substance — about a third of a teaspoonful — 
is collected. This substance is then mixed with pow- 
dered common salt and brick-dust, put into a broken piece 
of a pot, and covered with another piece. The whole is 
placed in a large earthen vessel, with cow-dung cakes 
well packed above and below. A blazing fire is soon 
produced, and kept up till the mass is melted. This 
mass is carefully removed, and again melted with borax 
in a hole made in a piece of good charcoal, by blowing 


through a reed or hollow bamboo, until the gold separates 
from the mass. The fire is then suddenly quenched, and 
the piece of gold is separated and removed." 

Jalari.— The Jalaris are Telugu fishermen, palanquin- 
bearers, and cultivators in Ganjam and Vizagapatam. 
The name, Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao writes, is derived 
from jala, a net. Some are fresh -water fishermen, while 
others fish with a cast-net (visuru valalu) from the sea- 
shore, or on the open sea. They bear the name Ganga- 
vamsamu, or people of Ganga, in the same way that a 
division of the Kabbera fishing caste is called Gangi- 
makkalu. In caste organisation, ceremonial, etc., the 
Jalaris coincide with the Mllas. They are called Noli- 
yas by the Oriyas of Ganjam. They have house-names 
like other Telugus, and their females do not wear brass 
bangles, as low-caste Oriya women do. 

The Jalaris have two endogamous divisions, called 
panrendu kotla (twelve posts), and edu kotla (seven 
posts), in reference to the number of posts for the booth. 
The former claim superiority over the latter, on the 
ground that they are illegitimate Jalaris, or recently 
admitted into the caste. 

Like other Telugu castes, the Jalaris have a caste 
council under the control of a headman called Pilla. In 
imitation of the Oriyas, they have created an assistant 
headman called Dolobehara, and they have the usual 
caste servant. 

In their puberty, marriage and death ceremonies, 
they closeiy follow the Vadas and Palles. The prohibi- 
tions regarding marriage are of the Telugu form, but, 
like the Oriya castes, the Jalaris allow a widow to marry 
her deceased husband's younger brother. The marriage 
ceremonies last for three days. On the first day, the 
pandal (booth), with the usual milk-post, is erected. For 


every marriage, representatives of the four towns Pedda- 
patnam, Vizagapatam, Bimlipatam, and Revalpatnam, 
should be invited, and should be the first to receive 
pan-supari (betel leaves and areca nuts) after the pandal 
has been set up. Peddapatnam is the first to be called 
out, and the respect may be shown to any person from 
that town. The representatives of the other towns must 
belong to particular septs, as follows : — 

Vizagapatam ... ... ... ... Buguri sept. 

Revalpatnam ... ... ... ... Jonna sept. 

Bimlipatam ... ... ... ... Sundra sept. 

The Jalaris are unable to explain the significance of 
this "counting towns," as they call it. Possibly Pedda- 
patnam was their original home, from which particular 
septs emigrated to other towns. On the second day of 
the marriage ceremonies, the tying of the sathamanam 
(marriage badge) takes place. The bridegroom, after 
going in procession through the streets, enters the house 
at which the marriage is to be celebrated. At the 
entrance, the maternal uncle of the bride stands holding 
in his crossed hands two vessels, one of which contains 
water, and the other water with jaggery (crude sugar) 
dissolved in it. The bridegroom is expected to take hold 
of the vessel containing the sweetened water before he 
enters, and is fined if he fails to do so. When the bride- 
groom approaches the pandal, some married women 
hold a bamboo pole between him and the pandal, and 
a new earthen pot is carried thrice round the pole. 
While this is being done, the bride joins the bridegroom, 
and the couple enter the pandal beneath a cloth held up to 
form a canopy in front thereof. This ceremonial takes 
place towards evening, as the marriage badge is tied on 
the bride's neck during the night. An interesting feature 
in connection with the procession is that a pole called 


digametlu (shoulder-pole), with two baskets tied to the 
ends, is carried. In one of the baskets a number of sieves 
and small baskets are placed, and in the other one or more 
cats. This digametlu is always referred to by the Vadas 
when they are questioned as to the difference between 
their marriage ceremonies and those of the Jalaris. 
Other castes laugh at this custom, and it is consequently 
dying out. 

The Jalaris always marry young girls. One reason 
assigned for this is " the income to married young girls " 
at the time of the marriage ceremonies. Two or more 
married couples are invited to remain at the house in 
which the marriage takes place, to help the bridal couple 
in their toilette, and assist at the nalagu, evil eye waving, 
and other rites. They are rewarded for their services 
with presents. Another instance of infant marriage 
being the rule on account of pecuniary gain is found 
among the Dikshitar Brahmans of Chidambaram. Only 
married males have a voice in temple affairs, and receive 
a share of the temple income. Consequently, boys are 
sometimes married when they are seven or eight years 
old. At every Jalari marriage, meals must be given to 
the castemen, a rupee to the representatives of the 
patnams, twelve annas to the headman and his assistant, 
and three rupees to the Malas. 

Like other Telugu castes, the Jalaris have intiperus 
(septs), which resemble those of the Vadas. Among 
them, Jonna and Buguri are common. In their religious 
observances, the Jalaris closely follow the Vadas. 

The Madras Museum possesses a collection of clay 
and wooden figures, such as are worshipped by the 
fishing castes at Gopalpur, and other places on the 
Ganjam coast. Concerning these, Mr. J. D'A. C. Reilly 
writes to me as follows. The specimens represent the 


chief gods worshipped by the fishermen. The Tahsildar 
of Berhampur got them made by the potters and 
carpenters, who usually make such figures for the 
Gopalpur fishermen. I have found fishermen's shrines 
at several places. Separate families appear to have 
separate shrines, some consisting of large chatties 
(earthen pots), occasionally ornamented, and turned 
upside down, with an opening on one side. Others 
are made of bricks and chunam (lime). All that I have 
seen had their opening towards the sea. Two classes 
of figures are placed in these shrines, viz., clay figures of 
gods, which are worshipped before fishing expeditions, 
and when there is danger from a particular disease which 
they prevent ; and wooden figures of deceased relations, 
which are quite as imaginative as the clay figures. 
Figures of gods and relations are placed in the same family 
shrine. There are hundreds of gods to choose from, and 
the selection appears to be a matter of family taste and 
tradition. The figures which I have sent were made by 
a potter at Venkatarayapalle, and painted by a carpenter 
at Uppulapatti, both villages near Gopalpur. The 
Tahsildar tells me that, when he was inspecting them 
at the Gopalpur traveller's bungalow, sixty or seventy 
firshermen objected to their gods being taken away. He 
pacified them by telling them that it was because the 
Government had heard of their devotion to their gods 
that they wanted to have some of them in Madras. The 
collection of clay figures includes the following : — 

Bengali Babu. — Wears a hat, and rides on a black 
horse. He blesses the fishermen, secures large hauls 
of fish for them, and guards them against danger when 
out fishing. 

Samalamma. — Wears a red skirt and green coat 
and protects the fishermen from fever. 

JALI 446 

Rajamma, a female figure, with a sword in her right 
hand, riding on a black elephant. She blesses barren 
women with children, and favours her devotees with 
big catches when they go out fishing. 

Yerenamma, riding on a white horse, with a sword 
in her right hand. She protects fishermen from drown- 
ing, and from being caught by big fish. 

Bhaglrathamma, riding on an elephant, and having 
eight or twelve hands. She helps fishermen when 
fishing at night, and protects them against cholera, 
dysentery, and other intestinal disorders. 

Nukalamma. — Wears a red jacket and green skirt, 
and protects the fishing community against small-pox. 

Orosondi Ammavaru. — Prevents the boats from 
being sunk or damaged. 

Bhagadevi. — Rides on a tiger, and protects the 
community from cholera. 

Veyyi Kannula Ammavaru, or the goddess of a 
thousand eyes, represented by a pot pierced with holes, 
in which a gingelly (Sesamum) oil light is burnt. She 
attends to the general welfare of the fisher folk. 
Jali (Acacia arabica). — A gotra of Kurni. 
Jalli.— Jalli, meaning palm tassels put round the 
neck and horns of bulls, occurs as an exogamous sept 
of Jogl. The name occurs further as a sub-division of 

Jambava.— A synonym of the Madigas, who claim 
descent from the rishi Audi Jambavadu. 

Jambu (Eugenia Jambolana). — An exogamous sept 
of Odde. 

Jambuvar (a monkey king with a bear's face). — An 
exogamous sept of Kondaiyamkottai Mara van. 

Jamkhanvala (carpet-maker). — An occupational 
name for Patnulkarans and Patvegars. 


Jammi (Prosopis spicigera). — A gotra of Gollas, 
members of which may not use the tree. It is further a 
gotra of Chembadis. Children of this caste who are 
named after the caste god Gurappa or Gurunathadu are 
taken, when they are five, seven, or nine years old, to a 
jammi tree, and shaved after it has been worshipped 
with offerings of cooked food, etc. The jammi or sami 
tree is regarded as sacred all over India. Some ortho- 
dox Hindus, when they pass it, go round it, and salute 
it, repeating a Sanskrit verse to the effect that " the 
sami tree removes sins ; it is the destroyer of enemies ; 
it was the bearer of the bows and arrows of Arjuna, 
and the sight of it was very welcome to Rama." 

Janappan.— The Janappans, Mr. W. Francis 
writes,* " were originally a section of the Balijas, but 
they have now developed into a distinct caste. They 
seem to have been called Janappan, because they manu- 
factured gunny-bags of hemp (janapa) fibre. In Tamil 
they are called Saluppa Chettis, Saluppan being the 
Tamil form of Janappan. Some of them have taken 
to calling themselves Desayis or Desadhfpatis (rulers of 
countries), and say they are Balijas. They do not wear 
the sacred thread. The caste usually speaks Telugu, 
but in Madura there is a section, the women of which 
speak Tamil, and also are debarred from taking part in 
religious ceremonies, and, therefore, apparently belonged 
originally to some other caste." 

In a note on the Janappans of the North Arcot 
district t Mr. H. A. Stuart states that Janappan is " the 
name of a caste, which engages in trade by hawking 
goods about the towns and villages. Originally they 
were merely manufacturers of gunny-bags out of hemp 

* Madras Census Report, 1901. 

+ Manual of the North Arcot district. 


(janapa, Crotalaria juncea), and so obtained their name. 
But they are now met with as Dasaris or religious 
beggars, sweetmeat-sellers, and hawkers of English 
cloths and other goods. By the time they have obtained 
to the last honourable profession, they assume to be 
Balijas. Telugu is their vernacular, and Chetti their 
usual caste name. According to their own tradition, 
they sprung from a yagam (sacrificial rite) made by 
Brahma, and their remote ancestor thus produced was, 
they say, asked by the merchants of the country to 
invent some means for carrying about their wares. He 
obtained some seeds from the ashes of Brahma's yagam, 
which he sowed, and the plant which sprang up was the 
country hemp, which he manufactured into a gunny-bag. 
The Janapa Chettis are enterprising men in their way, 
and are much employed at the fairs at Gudiyattam and 
other places as cattle-brokers." 

The Saluppans say that they have twenty-four 
gotras, which are divided into groups of sixteen and 
eight. Marriage is forbidden between members of 
the same group, but permitted between members of the 
sixteen and eight gotras. Among the names of the 
gotras, are the following : — 







Pilli Vankaravan. 







The Janappans of the Telugu country also say that 
they have only twenty-four gotras. Some of these are 
totemistic in character. Thus, members of the Kappala 
(frog) gotra owe their name to a tradition that on one 


occasion, when some of the family were fishing, they 
caught a haul of big frogs instead offish. Consequently, 
members of this gotra do not injure frogs. Members of 
the Thonda or Thonda Maha Rishi gotra abstain from 
using the fruit or leaves of the thonda plant (Cepha- 
landra indicd). The fruits of this plant are among 
the commonest of native vegetables. In like manner, 
members of the Mukkanda sept may not use the fruit of 
Momoj'dica Charantia. Those of the Vamme gotra 
abstain from eating the fish called bombadai, because, 
when some of their ancestors went to fetch water in 
the marriage pot, they found a number of this fish in 
the water collected in the pot. So, too, in the Kola 
gotra, the eating of the fish called kolasi is forbidden. 

In their marriage customs, those who live in the 
Telugu country follow the Telugu Puranic form, while 
those who have settled in the Tamil country have 
adopted some of the marriage rites thereof. There are, 
however, some points of interest in their marriage 
ceremonies. On the day fixed for the betrothal, those 
assembled wait silently listening for the chirping of a 
lizard, which is an auspicious sign. It is said that the 
match is broken off, if the chirping is not heard. If the 
omen proves auspicious, a small bundle of nine to twelve 
kinds of pulses and grain is given by the bridegroom's 
father to the father of the bride. This is preserved, and 
examined several days after the marriage. If the grain 
and pulses are in good condition, it is a sign that the 
newly married couple will have a prosperous career. 

There are both Saivites and Vaishnavites among 
these people, and the former predominate in the 
southern districts. Most of the Vaishnavites are 
disciples of Bhatrazus. The Bhatrazu priest goes 
round periodically, collecting his fees. Those among 


the Saivites who are religiously inclined are disciples of 
Pandarams of mutts (religious institutions). Those 
who have settled in the Salem district seem to consider 
Damayanti and Kamatchi as the caste deities. 

The manufacture of gunny-bags is still carried on 
by some members of the caste, but they are mainly 
engaged in trade and agriculture. In the city of 
Madras, the sale of various kinds of fruits is largely in 
the hands of the Janappans. 

Sathu vandlu, meaning a company of merchants or 
travellers, occurs as a synonym of Janappan. 

In the Mysore Census Report, 1901, Janappa is 
returned as a sub-division of the Gonigas, who are 
sack-weavers, and makers of gunny-bags. 

Jandayi (flag). — An exogamous sept of Yanadi. 

Janga (calf of the leg). — An exogamous sept of 

Jangal Jati.— A synonym, denoting jungle folk, of 
the Kurivikarans or Kattu Marathis. 

Jangam.— It is noted, in the Madras Census Report, 
1 90 1, that " strictly speaking, a Jangam is a priest to the 
religious sect of Lingayats, but the term is frequently 
loosely applied to any Lingayat, which accounts for the 
large numbers under this head (102,121). Jangams 
proper are said to be of two classes, Pattadikaris, who 
have a definite head-quarters, and Charamurtis, who go 
from village to village, preaching the principles of the 
Lingayat sect. Many Jangams are priests to Sudras 
who are not Lingayats, others are merely religious 
beggars, and others of them go in for trade." In the 
Census Report, 1891, it is further recorded that "the 
full name is Jangama Lingayat, meaning those who 
always worship a moveable lingam, in contradistinction 
to the Sthavara (immoveable) lingam of the temples. 

45 1 JANMI 

Only two of the sub-divisions returned are numerically 
important, Ganayata and Sthavara. The sub-division 
Sthavara is curious, for a Sthavara Jangam is a contra- 
distinction in terms. This sub-division is found only 
in the two northern districts, and it is possible that the 
Jangam caste, as there found, is different from the ordi- 
nary Jangam, for, in the Vizagapatam District Manual, 
the Jangams are said to be tailors." In the Telugu 
country Lingayats are called Jangalu. 

The Ganta Jangams are so called, because they 
carry a metal bell (ganta). 

The Jangams are thus referred to by Pietro della 
Valle.* " At Ikkeri I saw certain Indian Friars, whom in 
their language they call Giangama, and perhaps are the 
same with the sages seen by me elsewhere ; but they 
have wives, and go with their faces smeared with ashes, 
yet not naked, but clad in certain extravagant habits, and 
a kind of hood or cowl upon their heads of dyed linen of 
that colour which is generally used amongst them, 
namely a reddish brick colour, with many bracelets upon 
their arms and legs, filled with something within that 
makes a jangling as they walk. I saw many persons 
come to kiss their feet, and, whilst such persons were 
kissing them, and, for more reverence, touching their 
feet with their foreheads, these Giangamas stood firm 
with a seeming severity, and without taking notice of it, 
as if they had been abstracted from the things of the 
world." {See Lingayat.) 

Janjapul (sacred thread). — An exogamous sept of 

Janmi. — Janmi or Janmakaran means " proprietor or 
landlord ; the person in whom the janman title rests. 

* Travels into East India and Arabia deserta, 1665. 
H-29 B 

JANMI 452 

Janman denotes (1) birth, birthright, proprietorship ; (2) 
freehold property, which it was considered disgraceful to 
alienate. Janmabhogam is the share in the produce of 
the land, which is due to the Janmi."* In 1 805-1 806, 
the Collector of Malabar obtained, for the purpose of 
carrying out a scheme of assessment approved by 
Government, a return from all proprietors of the 
seed, produce, etc., of all their fields. This return is 
usually known as the Janmi pymaish of 981 M.E. 
(Malabar era).t 

Writing to me concerning Malabar at the present 
day, a correspondent states that " in almost every taluk 
we have jungle tribes, who call themselves the men of 
Janmis. In the old days, when forests were sold, the 
inhabitants were actually entered in the contract as part 
of the effects, as, in former times, the landlord sold the 
adscripti or ascripti gleba with the land. Now that is 
not done. However, the relationship exists to the fol- 
lowing extent, according to what a Tahsildar (native 
magistrate) tells me. The tribesmen roam about the 
forests at will, and each year select a place, which has 
lain fallow for five years or more for all kinds of culti- 
vation. Sometimes they inform the Janmis that they 
have done so, sometimes they do not. Then, at harvest 
time, the Janmi, or his agent, goes up and takes his 
share of the produce. They never try to deceive the 
Janmi. He is asked to settle their disputes, but these 
are rare. They never go to law. The Janmi can call 
on them for labour, and they give it willingly. If badly 
treated, as they have been at times by encroaching 
plainsmen, they run off to another forest, and serve 
another Janmi. At the Onam festival they come with 

* Wigram, Malabar Law and Custom. 

f Logan, Manual of Malabar, which contains full details concerning Janmis, 


gifts for the Janmi, who stands them a feast. The 
relation between the jungle folk and the Janmi shows 
the instinct in a primitive people to have a lord. There 
seems to be no gain in having a Janmi. His protection 
is not needed, and he is hardly ever called in to interfere. 
If they refused to pay the Janmi his dues, he would 
find it very hard to get them. Still they keep him." In 
the middle of the last century, when planters first began 
to settle in the Malabar Wynad, they purchased the 
land from the Janmis with the Paniyans living on it, 
who were practically slaves of the landowners. 

The hereditary rights and perquisites claimed, in their 
villages, by the astrologer, carpenter, goldsmith, washer- 
man, barber, etc., are called Cherujanmam. 

Janni.— The name of the caste priests of Jatapus. 

Japanese. — At the Mysore census, 1901, two 
Japanese were returned. They were managers of the 
silk farm instituted on Japanese methods by Mr. Tata 
of Bombay in the vicinity of Bangalore. 

Jat.— A few members of this North Indian class of 
Muhammadans, engaged in trade, have been returned at 
times of census in Mysore. 

Jatapu.— The Jatapus are defined, in the Madras 
Census Report, 1901, as "a civilised section of the 
Khonds, who speak Khond on the hills and Telugu 
on the plains, and are now practically a distinct caste. 
They consider themselves superior to those Khonds 
who still eat beef and snakes, and have taken to some 
of the ways of the castes of the plains." 

For the following note, I am indebted to Mr. C. 
Hayavadana Rao. The name Jatapu is popularly be- 
lieved to be an abbreviated form of Konda Jatapu 
Doralu, or lords of the Khond caste. To this caste the 
old chiefs of the Palkonda Zamindari are said to have 


belonged. It is divided into a number of septs, such, 
for example, as : — 

Thorika or Thoyika, who revere the thorika kodi, 
a species of wild fowl. 

Kadrika, who revere another species of fowl. 

Mamdangi, who revere the bull or cow. 

Addaku, who revere the addaku {Bauhinia race- 
mosa), which is used by low-country people for eating- 

Konda Gorre, who revere a certain breed of sheep. 

Navalipitta, who revere the peacock. 

Arika, who revere the arika {Paspalum scrobicu- 

Other septs, recorded in the Census Report, 1901, 
are Koalaka (arrow), Kutraki (wild goat), and Vinka 
(white ant, Termes). 

Marriage is celebrated either before or after a girl 
reaches puberty. A man may claim his paternal aunt's 
daughter as his wife. The marriage ceremonies closely 
resemble those of the low-country Telugu type. The 
bride-price, called voli, is a new cloth for the bride's 
mother, rice, various kinds of grain, and liquor. The bride 
is conducted to the house of the bridegroom, and a 
feast is held. On the following morning, the kallagolla 
sambramam (toe-nail cutting) ceremony takes place, 
and, later on, at an auspicious hour, the wrist threads 
(kankanam) are tied on the wrists of the contracting 
couple, and their hands joined together. They then 
bathe, and another feast is held. The remarriage of 
widows is allowed, and a younger brother may marry 
the widow of his elder brother. Divorce is permitted, 
and divorcees may remarry. 

The dead are usually buried, but those who die from 
snake-bite are said to be burnt. Death pollution lasts 


for three days, during which the caste occupation of 
cultivating is not carried on. An annual ceremony is 
performed by each family in honour of the dead. A 
fowl or goat is killed, a portion of the day's food col- 
lected in a plate, and placed on the roof of the house. 
Once in twenty years or so, all the castemen join 
together, and buy a pig or cow, which is sacrificed in 
honour of the ancestors. 

The caste goddess is Jakara Devata, who is pro- 
pitiated with sacrifices of pigs, sheep, and buffaloes. 
When the crop is gathered in, the first fruits are offered 
to her, and then partaken of. 

The caste headman is called Nayudu or Samanthi, 
and he is assisted by the Janni, or caste priest, 
who officiates at ceremonials, and summons council 

The caste titles are Dora, Naiko, and Samanto. 

Jatikirtulu. — Recorded, in the Madras Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as a class of beggars in the Cuddapah 
district. The name means those who praise the caste, 
and may have reference to the Bhatrazus. 

Jati Pillai (children of the caste). — A general name 
for beggars, who are attached to particular castes, from 
the members of which they receive alms, and at whose 
ceremonies they take part by carrying flags in proces- 
sions, etc. It is their duty to uphold the dignity of the 
caste by reciting the story of its origin, and singing its 
praises. As examples of Jati Pillais, the following may 
be cited : — 

Mailari attached to Komatis. 

Viramushti attached to Beri Chettis and Komatis. 

Nokkan attached to Pallis. 

Mastiga attached to Madigas. 

JAURA 456 

It is recorded by Mr. M. Paupa Rao Naidu # that 
some Koravas, who go by the name of Jatipalli Kora- 
vas, " are prevalent in the southern districts of the Madras 
Presidency, moving always in gangs, and giving much 
trouble. Their women tattoo in return for grain, money, 
or cloths, and help their men in getting acquainted with 
the nature and contents of the houses." 

Jaura.— The Jauras are a small Oriya caste, closely 
allied to the Khoduras, the members of which manufac- 
ture lac (jau) bangles and other articles. Lac, it may be 
noted, is largely used in India for the manufacture of 
bangles, rings, beads, and other trinkets worn as orna- 
ments by women of the poorer classes. Dhippo (light) 
and mohiro (peacock) occur as common exogamous 
septs among the Jauras, and are objects of reverence. 
The Jauras are mainly Saivites, and Suramangala and 
Bimmala are the caste deities. Titles used by members 
of the caste are Danse, Sahu, Dhov, and Mahapatro. 

Javvadi (civet-cat). — An exogamous sept of Medara. 

Jelakuppa (a fish). — An exogamous sept of Kuruba. 

Jen (honey). — A sub-division of Kurumba. 

Jenna.— A title of Oriya castes, e.g., Bolasi and 

Jerribotula (centipedes). — An exogamous sept of 
Boy a. 

Jetti.— A Telugu caste of professional wrestlers and 
gymnasts, who, in the Telugu districts, shampoo and rub 
in ointments to cure nerve pains and other disorders. 
In Tanjore, though living in a Tamil environment, they 
speak Telugu. They wear the sacred thread, and 
consider themselves to be of superior caste, never 
descending to any degrading work. During the days 

* History of Korawars, Erukalas, or Kaikaries. Madras, 1905. 

457 JETTI 

of the Rajas of Tanjore, they were employed in guarding 
the treasury and jewel rooms. But, since the death of 
the late Raja, most of them have emigrated to Mysore 
and other Native States, a few only remaining in 
Tanjore, and residing in the fort. 

The Jettis, in Mysore, are said * to have been some- 
times employed as executioners, and to have despatched 
their victim by a twist of the neck.f Thus, in the last 
war against Tipu Sultan, General Matthews had his head 
wrung from his body by the " tiger fangs of the Jetties, 
a set of slaves trained up to gratify their master with 
their infernal species of dexterity."J 

They are still considered skilful in setting dislocated 
joints. In a note regarding them in the early part of 
the last century, Wilks writes as follows. "These 
persons constitute a distinct caste, trained from their 
infancy in daily exercises for the express purpose of 
exhibitions ; and perhaps the whole world does not 
produce more perfect forms than those which are 
exhibited at these interesting but cruel sports. The 
combatants; clad in a single garment of light orange- 
coloured drawers extending half-way down the thigh, 
have their right arm furnished with a weapon, which, for 
want of a more appropriate term, we shall name a caestus, 
although different from the Roman instruments of that 
name. It is composed of buffalo horn, fitted to the 
hand, and pointed with four knobs, resembling very 
sharp knuckles, and corresponding to their situation, 
with a fifth of greater prominence at the end nearest the 
little finger, and at right angles with the other four. 
This instrument, properly placed, would enable a man 

* Rice, Mysore and Coorg Gazetteer. 

t Narrative Sketches of the Conquest of Mysore, 1800. 

X Wilks' Historical Sketches : Mysore, 1810-17. 

JETTI 458 

of ordinary strength to cleave open the head of his 
adversary at a blow ; but, the fingers being introduced 
through the weapon, it is fastened across them at an 
equal distance between the first and second lower joints, 
in a situation, it will be observed, which does not admit 
of attempting a severe blow, without the risk of dislocat- 
ing the first joints of all the fingers. Thus armed, and 
adorned with garlands of flowers, the successive pairs of 
combatants, previously matched by the masters of the 
feast, are led into the arena ; their names and abodes are 
proclaimed ; and, after making their prostrations, first 
to the Raja seated on his ivory throne, and then to the 
lattices behind which the ladies of the court are seated, 
they proceed to the combat, first divesting themselves 
of the garlands, and strewing the flowers gracefully over 
the arena. The combat is a mixture of wrestling and 
boxing, if the latter may be so named. The head is the 
exclusive object permitted to be struck. Before the end 
of the contest, both of the combatants may frequently be 
observed streaming with blood from the crown of the 
head down to the sand of the arena. When victory 
seems to have declared itself, or the contest is too 
severely maintained, the moderators in attendance on 
the Raja make a signal for its cessation by throwing 
down turbans and robes, to be presented to the combat- 
ants. The victor frequently goes off the arena in four 
or five somersaults, to denote that he retires fresh from 
the contest. The Jettis are divided into five classes, and 
the ordinary price of victory is promotion to a higher 
class. There are distinct rewards for the first class, 
and in their old age they are promoted to be masters of 
the feast." 

In an account of sports held before Tipu Sultan 
at Seringapatam, James Scurry, who was one of his 

459 JETTI 

prisoners, writes as follows.* " The getiees would be 
sent for, who always approached with their masters at 
their head, and, after prostration, and making their grand 
salams, touching the ground each time, they would be 
paired, one school against another. They had on their 
right hands the wood-guamootie (wajramushti) of four 
steel talons, which were fixed to each back joint of their 
fingers, and had a terrific appearance when their fists 
were closed. Their heads were close shaved, their 
bodies oiled, and they wore only a pair of short drawers. 
On being matched, and the signal given from Tippu, 
they begin the combat, always by throwing the flowers, 
which they wear round their necks, in each other's 
faces ; watching an opportunity of striking with the 
right hand, on which they wore this mischievous weapon 
which never failed lacerating the flesh, and drawing 
blood most copiously. Some pairs would close 
instantly, and no matter which was under, for the 
gripe was the whole ; they were in general taught to 
suit their holds to their opponent's body, with every 
part of which, as far as concerned them, they were 
well acquainted. If one got a hold against which his 
antagonist could not guard, he would be the conqueror ; 
they would frequently break each other's legs and arms ; 
and, if anyway tardy, Tippu had means of infusing 
spirit into them, for there were always two stout fellows 
behind each, with instruments in their hands that would 
soon put them to work. They were obliged to fight 
as long as Tippu pleased, unless completely crippled, 
and, if they behaved well, they were generally rewarded 
with a turban and shawl, the quality being according to 
their merit." 

* The captivity, sufferings, and escape of James Scurry, 1824. 

Jew 460 

The Jettis of Mysore still have in their possession 
knuckle-dusters of the type described above, and take 
part annually in matches during the Dasara festival. A 
Jetti police constable, whom I saw at Channapatna, had 
wrestled at Baroda, and at the court of Nepal, and 
narrated to me with pride how a wrestler came from 
Madras to Bangalore, and challenged any one to a 
match. A Jetti engaged to meet him in two matches 
for Rs. 500 each, and, after going in for a short course of 
training, walked round him in each encounter, and won 
the money easily. 

The Mysore Jettis are said to be called, in some 
places, Mushtigas. And some are stated to use a jargon 
called Mallabasha.* 

Jetti further occurs as the name of an exogamous 
sept of the Kavarais. 

Jew.— It has been said by a recent writer that " there 
is hardly a more curious, and in some respects one 
might almost say a more weird sight than the Jew town, 
which lies beyond the British Settlement at Cochin. 
Crossing over the lagoon from the beautiful little island 
of Bolghotty, where the British Residency for the 
Cochin State nestles in a bower of tropical vegeta- 
tion, one lands amidst cocoanut trees, opposite to 
one of the old palaces of the Cochin Rajahs, and, 
passing through a native bazaar crowded with dark- 
skinned Malayalis, one iturns off abruptly into a long 
narrow street, where faces as white as those of any 
northern European race, but Semitic in every feature, 
transport one suddenly in mind to the Jewish quarter 
in Jerusalem, or rather perhaps to some ghetto in a 
Polish city." 

* Manual of the Bellary district. 

46 1 JEW 

In the preparation of the following note, I have been 
much indebted to the Cochin Census Report, 1901, 
and to a series of articles published by Mr. Elkan 
N. Adler in the Jewish Chronicle.* 

The circumstances under which, and the time when 
the Jews migrated to the Malabar Coast, are wrapped 
in obscurity. They themselves are able to give accounts 
of only isolated incidents, since whatever records they 
had were lost at the destruction by the Portuguese of 
their original settlement at Cranganur in 1565, and by 
the destruction at a later period of such fragments as 
remained in their possession in the struggle between 
the Portuguese and the Dutch, for the Portuguese, sus- 
pecting that the Jews had helped the Dutch, plundered 
their synagogue in Cochin. 

It is recorded by the Dutch Governor Moens f that 
" when Heer van Goens besieged Cochin, the Jews 
were quite eager to provide the troops of the Dutch 
Company with victuals, and to afford them all the 
assistance they could, hoping that they would enjoy 
under this Company the greatest possible civil and 
religious liberty ; but, when the above-mentioned troops 
were compelled to leave this coast before the end of 
the good monsoon, without having been able to take 
Cochin, the Portuguese did not fail to make the Jews 
feel the terrible consequences of their revenge. For, 
no sooner had the Dutch retreated, than a detachment 
of soldiers was sent to the Jewish quarters, which were 
pillaged and set fire to, whilst the inhabitants fled to the 
high-lands, and returned only after Cochin was taken by 
the Dutch. 

* May nth, June 1st and 29th, 1906. 

f For the translations from the Dutch I am indebted to the kindness of the 
Rev, P. Grote, 

JEW 462 

" The Jews, who still hold that the Malabar Israel- 
ites were in possession of an old copy of the Sepher 
Thora, say that this copy, and all other documents, 
got lost on the occasion when the Portuguese destroyed 
the Jewish quarters, but this is not likely. For, whereas 
they had time to save their most valuable property 
according to their own testimony, and to take it to 
the mountains, they would not have failed to take along 
with them these documents, which were to them of 
inestimable value. For it is related that for a new copy 
of the Pentateuch which at that time was in their 
synagogue they had so much respect, and took such 
great care of it, that they even secured this copy, 
and took it along, and (when they returned) carried 
it back with great rejoicing, as it was done in olden 
times with the Ark of the Covenant." 

Writing in the eighteenth century, Captain Hamil- 
ton states * that the Jews " have a synagogue at Cochin, 
not far from the King's Palace, in which are carefully 
kept their Records, engraven on copper plates in 
Hebrew characters ; and when any of the characters 
decay, they are new cut, so that they can show their 
own History from the Reign of Nebuchadnezzar to this 
present time. Myn Heer Van Reeda, about the year 
1695, na d an Abstract of their History translated from 
the Hebrew into low Dutch. They declare themselves 
to be of the Tribe of Manasseh, a Part whereof was, by 
order of that haughty Conqueror Nebuchadnezzar, 
carried to the easternmost Province of his large Empire, 
which, it seems, reached as far as Cape Comerin, which 
journey 200,000 of them travelled in three years from 
their setting out of Babylon." 

* A new account of the East Indies, 1744. 

463 JEW 

The elders of the White Jews of Cochin have in 
their possession a charter on two copper plates in 
Vatteluttu character, "the original character which once 
prevailed over nearly all the Tamil country and south- 
west coast, but which has long ceased to be used in the 
former place, and, in the latter, is now only known in a 
later form, used for drawing up documents by Hindu 
Rajas." * Concerning this copper-plate charter, Mr. 
Adler writes that " the white Jews say that they have 
always held it ; the black Jews contend that it was 
originally theirs. The title-deed is quaint in many 
ways. It consists of three strips of copper, one of 
which is blank, one etched on both sides, and the third 
on one side only. The characters are made legible by 
being rubbed with whitening. The copper plates have 
a round hole in the corner, through which a string was 
passed to tie them together under seal, but the seal 
is lost. They are now kept together by a thin and 
narrow copper band, which just fits." 

Taking Dr. Gundert's t and Mr. Ellis' J translation 
of the charter as guides, Mr. Burnell translates it as 
follows : — § 

Svasti Sri. — The king of kings has ordered {This 
is) the act of grace ordered by His Majesty Sri Parkaran 
Iravi Vanmar || wielding the sceptre and reigning in 
a hundred thousand places, (in) the year {which is) 
the opposite to the second year, the thirty-sixth year, 
(on) the day he designed to abide in Muyirikkodu.l 

* A. C. Burnell, Ind. Ant. Ill, 1874. 

+ Madras Journ. Lit. Science, XIII, Part I. 

% Ibid., Part II. § Loc. cit. || Bhaskara-Ravi-Varma. 

IT This is explained in the Hebrew version by Cranganore, and Muyiri is, 
no doubt, the original of the Mouziris of Ptolemy and the Periplus of the Red 
Sea, It is (according to local tradition) the part where the Travancore lines 
end, opposite to Cranganore but across the back-water. 

JEW 4 6 4 

We have given to Isuppu Irabban * Ansuvannam (as 
a principality), and seventy-two proprietary rights 
(appertaining to the dignity of a feudal lord) also 
tribute by reverence (?) and offerings, and the profits 
of Ansuvannam, and day-lamps, and broad garments 
(as opposed to the custom of Malabar), and palankins, 
and umbrellas, and large drums, and trumpets, and small 
drums and garlands, and garlands across streets, etc., 
and the like, and seventy-two free houses. Moreover, 
we have granted by this document on copper that he 
shall not pay the taxes paid by the houses of the city 
into the royal treasury, and the (above-said) privileges 
to hold (them). To Isuppu Irabban, prince of Ansu- 
vannam, and to his descendants, his sons and daughters, 
and to his nephews, and to (the nephews) of his 
daughters in natural succession, Ansuvannam (is) an 
hereditary estate, as long as the world and moon exist. 
Sri. The charter is witnessed by various local chiefs. 

A somewhat different reading is given by Dr. G. 
Oppert f who renders the translation as follows : — 

" Hail and happiness ! The King of Kings, His 
Holiness Sri Bhaskara Ravi Varma, who wields the 
sceptre in many hundred thousand places, has made 
this decree on the day that he was pleased to dwell 
in Muyirikodu in the thirty-sixth year of his reign. 
We have granted unto Joseph Rabban Anjavannan 
the [dignity of] Prince, with all the seventy-two rights 
of ownership. He shall [enjoy] the revenues from 
female elephants and riding animals, and the income 
of Anjavannan. He is entitled to be honoured by 
lamps by day, and to use broad-cloth and sedan chairs, 

* I.e., Yusuf Rabban, 

t Ueber die Jiidischen Colonien in Indien. Kohut Memorial Volume, 
Semitic Studies, Berlin, 1897. 

4^5 JEW 

and the umbrella and the drums of the north and 
trumpets, and little drums, and gates, and garlands 
over the streets, and wreaths, and so on. We have 
granted unto him the land tax and weight tax. More- 
over, we have by these copper tablets sanctioned that, 
when the houses of the city have to pay taxes to the 
palace, he need not pay, and he shall enjoy other 
privileges like unto these. To Joseph Rabban, the 
prince of Anjavannam, and to his descendants, and to 
his sons and daughters, and to the nephews and 
sons-in-law of his daughters, in natural succession, so 
long as the world and moon exist, Anjuvannam shall 
be his hereditary possession." It is suggested by Dr. 
Oppert that Anjuvannam is identical with the fifth or 
foreign caste. 

Dr. E. Hultzsch, the latest authority on the subject 
of the copper plates, gives the following translation:* 
" Hail ! Prosperity ! (The following) gift (prasada) was 
graciously made by him who had assumed the title 
' King of Kings' (Kogon), His Majesty (tiruvadi) the 
King (ko), the glorious Bhaskara Ravivarman, in the 
time during which (he) was wielding the sceptre and 
ruling over many hundred thousands of places, in the 
thirty-sixth year after the second year, on the day on 
which (he) was pleased to stay at Muyirikkodu. We 
have given to Issuppu Irappan (the village of) Anjuvan- 
nam, together with the seventy-two proprietary rights 
(viz.), the tolls on female elephants and other riding - 
animals, the revenue of Anjuvannam, a lamp in day-time, 
a cloth spread (in front to walk on), a palanquin, a 
parasol, a Vaduga (i.e., Telugu ?) drum, a large trumpet, 
a gateway, an arch, a canopy (in the shape) of an arch, 

* Epigraphia Indica, HI, 1894-95. 

JEW 466 

a garland, and so forth. We have remitted tolls and the 
tax on balances. Moreover, we have granted with 
(these) copper-leaves that he need not pay (the dues) 
which the (other) inhabitants of the city pay to the royal 
palace (koyil), and that (he) may enjoy (the benefits) 
which (they) enjoy. To Issuppu Irappan of Anjuvannam, 
to the male children and to the female children born of 
him, to his nephews, and to the sons-in-law who have 
married (his) daughters (we have given) Anjuvannam 
(as) an hereditary estate for as long as the world and the 
moon shall exist. Hail ! Thus do I know, Govardhana- 
Martandan of Venadu. Thus do I know, Kodai 
Srikanthan of Venapalinadu. Thus do I know, Mana- 
vepala-Manavyan of Eralanadu. Thus do I know, 
Irayiram of Valluvanadu. Thus do I know, Kodai Ravi 
of Nedumpuraiyurnadu. Thus do I know, Murkham 
Sattan, who holds the office of sub-commander of the 
forces. The writing of the Under-Secretary Van — 
Talaiseri — Gandan Kunrappolan." 

"The date of the inscription," Dr. Hultzsch adds, 
" was the thirty-sixth year opposite to the second year. 
As I have shown on a previous occasion,* the meaning 
of this mysterious phrase is probably ' the thirty-sixth 
year (of the king's coronation, which took place) after the 
second year (of the king's yauvarajya).' The inscription 
records a grant which the king made to Issuppu Irappan, 
i.e., Joseph Rabban. The occurrence of this Semitic 
name, combined with the two facts that the plates are 
still with the Cochin Jews, and that the latter possess a 
Hebrew translation of the document, proves that the 
donee was a member of the ancient Jewish colony on 
the western coast. The grant was made at Muriyikkodu. 

Ind. Ant., XX, 1891. 

467 JEW 

The Hebrew translation identifies this place with 
Kodunnallur (Cranganore), where the Jewish colonists 
resided, until the bad treatment which they received 
at the hands of the Portuguese induced them to settle 
near Cochin. The object of the grant was Anjuvannam. 
This word means 'the five castes,' and may have the 
designation of that quarter of Cranganore, in which the 
five classes of Artisans — Ain-Kammalar, as they are called 
in the smaller Kottayam grant — resided." 

In a note on the Kottayam plate of Vira Raghava, 
which is in the possession of the Syrian Christians, Rai 
Bahadur V. Venkayya writes as follows.* " Vira- 
Raghava conferred the title of Manigramam on the 
merchant Iravikkorran. Similarly Anjuvannam was be- 
stowed by the Cochin plates on the Jew Joseph Rabban. 
The old Malayalam work Payyanur Pattola, which Dr. 
Gundert considered the oldest specimen of Malayalam 
composition, refers to Anjuvannam and Manigramam. 
The context in which the two names occur in this work 
implies that they were trading institutions. In the 
Kottayam plates of Sthanu Ravi, both Anjuvannam and 
Manigramam are frequently mentioned. Both of them 
were appointed along with the six hundred to be 'the 
protectors ' of the grant. They were ' to preserve 
the proceeds of the customs duty as they were collected 
day by day, ' and ' to receive the landlord's portion of 
the rent on land. If any injustice be done to them, they 
may withhold the customs and the tax on balances, and 
remedy themselves the injury done to them. Should 
they themselves commit a crime, they are themselves 
to have the investigation of it.' To Anjuvannam and 
Manigramam was granted the freehold of the lands of 

* Epigraphia Indica, IV, 1896-97. 
II-30 B 

JEW 468 

the town (of Kollam ?). From these extracts, and from 
the reference in the Payyanur Pattola, it appears that 
Anjuvannam and Manigramam were semi-independent 
trading corporations. The epithet Setti (merchant) 
given to Ravikkorran, the trade rights granted to him, 
and the sources of revenue thrown open to him as head 
of Manigramam, confirm the view that the latter was a 
trading corporation. There is nothing either in the 
Cochin grant, or in the subjoined inscription to show 
that Anjuvannam and Manigramam were, as believed by 
Dr. Gundert and others, Jewish and Christian princi- 
palities, respectively. It was supposed by Dr. Burnell 
that the plate of Vira-Raghava created the principality 
of Manigramam, and the Cochin plates that of Anjuvan- 
nam, and that, consequently, the existence of these two 
grants is presupposed by the plates of Sthanu Ravi, 
which mention both Anjuvannam and Manigramam very 
often. The Cochin plates did not create Anjuvannam, 
but conferred the honours and privileges connected 
therewith to a Jew named Joseph Rabban. Similarly, 
the rights and honours associated with the other 
corporation, Manigramam, was bestowed at a later 
period on Ravikkorran. Therefore, Anjuvannam and 
Manigramam must have existed as institutions even 
before the earliest of these three copper-plates was 
issued. It is just possible that Ravikkorran was a 
Christian by religion. But his name and title give 
no clue in this direction, and there is nothing Christian 
in the document, except its possession by the present 

It rs recorded by Mr. Francis Day * that Governor 
Moens obtained three different translations of the plates, 

* The Land of the Permauls, or Cochin, its past and its present, 1863. 

469 JEW 

and gave as the most correct version one, in which 
the following words occur : — " We, Erawi, Wanwara, 
Emperor of Malabar .... give this deed of 
rights to the good Joseph Rabban, that he may use the 
five colours, spread his religion among the five castes." 
Mr. Burnell, however, notes that Dr. Gundert has ascer- 
tained beyond doubt that Anjuvannan (literally five 
colours) does not mean some privilege, but is the name 
of a place. 

Concerning the copper-plates, Governor Moens 
writes thus. " The following translation is by the 
Jewish merchant Ezechiel Rabby, who was an earnest 
explorer of anything that had any connection with his 
nation. After this I will give another translation, which 
I got from our second interpreter Barend Deventer, who 
was assisted by an old and literary inhabitant of Malabar ; 
and lastly I will add a third one, which I obtained from 
our first interpreter Simon of Tongeren, assisted by a 
heathen scribe of Calicut, in order thus not to allow the 
Jews to be the judges in their own affair, but rather 
to enable the reader to judge for himself in this doubtful 
matter. The first translation runs thus : — 

" By the help of God, who created the universe 
and appoints the kings, and whom I honour, I, Erawi 
Wanwara, Emperor of Malabar, grant in the 36th year 
of our happy reign at the court of Moydiricotta — alias 
Cranganore — this Act of Privileges to the Jew Josep 
Rabaan, viz., that he may make use of the five colours, 
spread his religion among the five castes or dynasties, 
fire salutes on all solemnities, ride on elephants and 
horses, hold stately processions, make use of cries of 
honour, and in the day-time of torches, different musical 
instruments, besides a big drum ; that he may walk on 
roads spread with white linen, hold tournaments with 

JEW 470 

sticks, and sit under a stately curtain. These privileges 
we give to Josep Rabaan and to the 72 households, 
provided that the others of this nation must obey the 
orders of his and their descendants so long as the 
sun shall shine on the earth. This Act is granted in 
the presence of the Kings of Trevancore, Tekkenkore, 
Baddenkenkore, Calicoilan, Aringut, Sammoryn, Palcat- 
chery, and Colastry ; written by the secretary Calembi 
Kelapen in the year 3481 Kalijogam. 

" ' The second translation diners in important 
statements from the first, and would deserve more 
attention when neutral people of Malabar could be found, 
who could testify to the credibility of the same ; but, 
notwithstanding the trouble I have taken to find such 
persons, it has been hitherto in vain. The second 
translation runs thus : — 

" ' In the quiet and happy time of our reign, we, 
Erawi Wanwara, imitator of (successor to ?) the sceptres, 
which for many hundreds of thousands of years have 
reigned in justice and righteousness, the glorious foot- 
steps of whom we follow, now in the second year of our 
reign, being the 36th year of our residence in the town 
of Moydiricotta, grant hereby, on the obtained good 
testimony of the great experience of Joseph Rabaan, 
that the said person is allowed to wear long dresses of 
five colours, that he may use carriages together with their 
appurtenances, and fans which are used by the nobility. 
He shall have precedence to the five castes, be allowed 
to burn day-lamps, to walk on spread out linen, to make 
use of palanquins, Payeng umbrellas, large bent trum- 
pets, drums, staff, and covered seats. We give him 
charge over the 72 families and their temples, which are 
found both here and elsewhere, and we renounce our 
rights on all taxes and duties on both houses. He shall 

47i JEW 

everywhere be allowed to have lodgings. All these 
privileges and prerogatives, explained in this charter, 
we grant to Joseph Rabaan head of the five castes, and 
to his heirs, sons, daughters, children's children, the sons- 
in-law married to the daughters, together with their 
descendants, as long as the sun and moon shall shine ; 
and we grant him also all power over the five castes, as 
long as the names of their descendants shall last. Wit- 
nesses hereof are the Head of the country of Wenaddo 
named Comaraten Matandden ; the head of the country 
of Wenaaodea named Codei Cheri-canden ; the Head of 
the country of Erala named Mana Bepalamaan ; the Head 
of the country Walonaddo named Trawaren Chaten ; the 
Head of the country Neduwalur named Codei Trawi ; 
besides the first of the lesser rulers of territories of the 
part of Cusupady Pawagan, namely the heir of Murkom 
Chaten named Kelokandan ; written by the secretary 
named Gunawendda Wanasen Nayr, Kisapa Kelapa ; 
signed by the Emperor. 

" ' The third translation runs as follows : — 
"' In the name of the Most High God, who 
created the whole world after His own pleasure, and main- 
tains justice and righteousness, I, Erwij Barman, raise 
my hands, and thank His Majesty for his grace and bless- 
ing bestowed on my reign in Cranganore, when residing 
in the fortress of Muricotta. I have granted for good 
reasons to my minister Joseph Raban the following 
privileges ; that he may wear five coloured cloths, long 
dresses, and hang on the shoulders certain cloths ; that 
they may cheer together, make use of drums and tam- 
bourines, burn lights during the day, spread cloths on 
the roads, use palanquins, umbrellas, trumpet torches, 
burning torches, sit under a throne (?), and act as Head 
of all the Jews numbering seventy -two houses, who will 

JEW 472 

have to pay him the tolls and taxes of the country, no 
matter in what part of the country they are living ; these 
privileges I give to Joseph Raban and his descendants, 
be they males or females, as long as any one of them 
is alive, and the sun and moon shine on the earth ; for 
this reason I have the same engraved on a copper-plate 
as an everlasting remembrance. Witnesses are the 
Kings of Travancore, Berkenkore, Sammorin, Arangolla, 
Palcatchery, Collastry, and Corambenaddo ; written by 
the secretary Kellapen. 

" ' The aforesaid copper-plate is written in the old 
broken Northern Tamil language, but with different kinds 
of characters, viz., Sanskrit and Tamil, and is now read 
and translated by a heathen scribe named Callutil Atsja, 
who was born at Calicut, and who, during the war, fled 
from that place, and stays at present on the hills. 

" ' When these translations are compared with one 
another, it will be observed at once that, in the first, the 
privileges are granted to the Jew Joseph Rabban, and 
to the 72 Jewish families, whereas, in the second, no 
trace is found of the word Jew ; and Joseph Rabban is, 
in the third, not called a Jew, but the minister of the 
king, although he may be taken for a Jew from the 
context in the course of the translation, for he is there 
appointed as Head of all the other Jews to the number of 
72 houses. It is equally certain that the name of Rabaan 
is not exclusively proper to the Jews only. Further- 
more, the first and last translations grant the above- 
mentioned privileges not only to Joseph Rabaan, but also 
to the 72 Jewish families, whereas, according to the 
second translation, the same are given to Joseph Rabaan, 
his family and offspring only. The second translation, 
besides, does not at all mention the freedom granted, 
and the consent to spread the Jewish religion among 

473 JEW 

the five castes. Thus, it is obvious that these three 
translations do not agree, that the first and third 
coincide more with each other than they do with the 
second ; that, for that reason, the first and last trans- 
lations deserve more to be believed than the second, 
which stands alone ; but that this, for that very reason, 
does not prove what it, properly speaking, ought to 
prove, and, whereas I am not acquainted with the 
Malabar language, I prefer to refrain from giving my 
opinion on the subject. For hitherto 1 have been unable 
to come across, either among the people of Malabar 
and Canara, or among the literary priests and natives, 
any one who was clever enough to translate these old 
characters for the fourth time, notwithstanding the fact 
that I had sent a copy of these characters to the north 
and south of Cochin, in order to have them deciphered. 
11 ' The witnesses who were present at the granting 
of this charter differ also. The first and third transla- 
tions, however, seem also to concur more with each 
other than with the second one. But the discrepancy of 
the second translation lies in this, that in it not the 
personal names of the witnesses are recorded, but only 
their offices or dignities, in which they officiated at that 
time ; whereas the mistake in the first and third transla- 
tions consists herein, that the witnesses are called kings, 
and more so of those places by which names these places 
were called some time after and subsequently when 
times had changed, and by which names they are still 
known. The second translation, however, calls them 
merely heads of the countries, in the same manner as 
they were known at the time of the Emperor, when 
these heads were not as yet kings, because these heads 
bore the title of king and ruler only after the well-known 
division of the Malabar Empire into four chief kingdoms, 

JEW 474 

and several smaller kingdoms and principalities. It must 
be admitted, however, that the head of the country of 
Cochin is, in the first and third translations, not mentioned 
by that name, although the kingdom of Cochin is in 
reality one of the four chief kingdoms of Malabar. I 
add this here for elucidation, in order that one should 
not wonder, when reading this charter, that inferior heads 
of countries and districts of the Malabar Empire could 
be called kings, because the Empire being at that time 
not as yet divided, they were not kings. It seems, 
therefore, to have been a free translation, of which the 
translators of the first and third translations have made 
use, and which has been pointed out in the second 

" ' The other statements of this charter, especially 
the authority over the five castes, must be explained 
according to the ancient times, customs, and habits of 
the people of Malabar, and need not be taken into con- 
sideration here. Whether this charter has in reality 
been granted to the Jews or not, it is certain that not 
at any time has a Jew had great authority over his 
co-religionists, and still less over the so-called five castes. 
Moreover, the property of the Jews has never been free 
from taxes, notwithstanding the fact that the kings to 
whom they were subject appointed as a rule as heads of 
the Jews men of their own nationality. They were 
known by the name of Moodiliars, who had no other 
authority than to dispose of small civil disputes, and to 
impose small fines of money. 

" ' There is, however, a peculiarity, which deserves 
to be mentioned. Although, in the charter, some pri- 
vileges are granted, which were also given to other 
people, yet to no one was it ever permitted to fire three 
salutes at the break of day, or on the day of a marriage 

475 JEW 

feast of one who entered upon the marriage state, without 
a previous request and special permission. This was 
always reserved, even to the present day, to the kings of 
Cochin only. Yet up to now it was always allowed to 
the Jews without asking first. And it is known that the 
native kings do not easily allow another to share in 
outward ceremonies, which they reserve for themselves. 
If, therefore, the Jews would have arrogated to themselves 
this privilege without high authority, the kings of Cochin 
would put a stop to this privilege of this nation, whose 
residences are situated next to the Cochin palace, but 
for this reason, I suppose, dare not do so.' " 

Various authorities have attempted to fix approxi- 
mately the date of the copper-plate charter. Mr. Burnell 
gives 700 A.D. as its probable date. The Rev. G. 
Milne Rae, accepting the date as fixed by Mr. Burnell, 
argues that the Jews must have received the grant a 
few generations after the settlement, and draws the 
conclusion that they might have settled in the country 
some time about the sixth century A.D. Dr. J. Wilson, 
in a lecture* on the Beni- Israels of Bombay, adopts 
the sixth century of the Christian era as the . proba- 
ble date of the arrival of the Beni- Israels in Bombay, 
about which time also, he is inclined to think, the Cochin 
Jews came to India, for their first copper-plate charter 
seems to belong to this period. There is no tradi- 
tion among the Jews of Cochin that they and the Beni- 
Israels emigrated to the shores of India from the same 
spot or at the same time, and the absence of any social 
intercourse between the Beni- Israels and the Cochin 
Jews seems to go against this theory. In one of 
the translations of the charter obtained by the Dutch 

* Ind. Ant., Ill, 1874. 

JEW 476 

Governor Moens, the following words appear : " Writ- 
ten by the Secretary Calembi Kelapoor, in the year 
3481 of the Kali-yuga (*.*., 379 A.D.)." This date does 
not appear, however, in the translations of Gundert, 
Ellis, Burnell and Oppert. The charter was given in 
the thirty-sixth year of the reign of the donor Bhaskara 
Ravi Varma. And, as all, except the last of the foreign 
Viceroys of Kerala, are said to have been elected for 
twelve years only, Cheruman Perumal, reputed to be the 
last of Perumals, who under exceptional circumstances 
had his term extended, according to Malabar tradition, to 
thirty-six years, may be identical with Bhaskara Ravi 
Varma, who, Mr. Day says, reigned till 378 A.D. Mr. 
C. M. Whish gives a still earlier date, for he fixes 231 
A.D. as the probable date of the grant. In connection 
with the claim to the antiquity of the settlement of the 
Jews in Malabar, it is set forth in the Cochin Census 
Report that they " are supposed to have first come in 
contact with a Dravidian people as early as the time of 
Solomon about B.C. 1000, for ' philology proves that the 
precious cargoes of Solomon's merchant ships came 
from the ancient coast of Malabar.' It is possible that 
such visits were frequent enough in the years that 
followed. But the actual settlement of the Jews on the 
Malabar coast might not have taken place until long 
afterwards. Mr. Logan, in the Manual of Malabar, 
writes that ' the Jews have traditions, which carry back 
their arrival on the coast to the time of their escape 
from servitude under Cyrus in the sixth century B.C.,' 
and the same fact is referred to by Sir W. Hunter in his 
'History of British India.' This eminent historian, 
in his ' Indian Empire ' speaks of Jewish settlements in 
Malabar long before the second century A.D. A Roman 
merchant ship, that sailed regularly from Myos Hormuz 

477 JEW 

on the Red Sea to Arabia, Ceylon, and Malabar, is 
reported to have found a Jewish colony in Malabar 
in the second century A.D. In regard to the settlement 
of the Jews in Malabar, Mr. Whish observes that ■ the 
Jews themselves say that Mar Thomas, the apostle, 
arrived in India in the year of our Lord 52, and them- 
selves, the Jews, in the year 69.' In view of the 
commercial intercourse between the Jews and the people 
of the Malabar coast long before the Christian era, it 
seems highly probable that Christianity but followed in 
the wake of Judaism. The above facts seem to justify 
the conclusion that the Jews must have settled in 
Malabar at least as early as the first century A.D." 

At Cochin the Jews enjoyed full privileges of citizen- 
ship, and were able to preserve the best part of their 
religious and civil liberty, and to remain here for 
centuries unseen, unknown, and unsearched by their 
persecutors. But, in the sixteenth century, they fell vic- 
tims by turns to the oppression of fanatical Moors and 
over-zealous Christians. " In 1524, the Mahomedans 
made an onslaught on the Cranganur Jews, slew a 
great number, and drove out the rest to a village to the 
east ; but, when they attacked the Christians, the Nayars 
of the place retaliated, and in turn drove all the Maho- 
medans out of Cranganur. The Portuguese enlarged 
and strengthened their Cranganur fort, and compelled 
the Jews finally to desert their ancient settlement of 
Anjuvannam." Thus, with the appearance of a powerful 
Christian nation on the scene, the Jews experienced the 
terrors of a new exile and a new dispersion, the desola- 
tion of Cranganur being likened by them to the desolation 
of Jerusalem in miniature. Some of them were driven 
to villages adjoining their ruined principality, while 
others seem to have taken shelter in Cochin and 

JEW 478 

Ernakulam. " Cranganore," Mr. Adler writes, "was 
captured by the Mahomedan Sheikh or Zamorin in 
1524, and razed to the ground. The Rajah Daniel 
seems to have previously sent his brother David to 
Europe to negociate with the Pope and the Portuguese for 
an offensive and defensive alliance against the Zamorin. 
Anyhow, a mysterious stranger, who called himself 
David Rubbeni, appeared in Rome in March, 1524, and, 
producing credentials from the Portuguese authorities 
in India and Egypt, was received with much honour by 
the Pope, King John of Portugal, and the Emperor 
Charles the Fifth in turn. After some years he fell 
a victim to the inquisition, but his failure and non-return 
to India are more easily explained by the fact that 
he was too late, and that the State he represented 
was no longer existent, than by the cheap assumption 
of all our historians, including Graetz, that he was an 
impostor with a cock-and-bull story. Whether the 
famous diary of David Rubbeni is genuine or not is less 
certain. But I have elsewhere sought to re-establish 
this long-discredited ambassador, and here limit myself 
to drawing attention to his name, which seems to have 
been David Rabbani. To this day David is one of the 
commonest names among the Cochin Jews, as well 
as the B'nei Israel, and Rabbani is the name of the 
ruling family under the copper grant. Its alteration 
into Rubeni was due to sixteenth century interest in the 
lost ten tribes, and a consequent desire of identifying 
the Royal family as sprung from Reuben, the first-born 
of Israel. Reuben, too, is a favourite name among the 
B'nei Israel. With the destruction of their capital, the 
Jews left and migrated, though to no great distance. 
Within 20 miles south of Cranganore are four other 
places, all on the Cochin back-water, where the Black 

479 JEW 

Jews still have synagogues. Parur, Chennan Manga- 
lam, and Mala have each one synagogue, Ernakulam 
has two, and Cochin three, of which one belongs to 
the White Jews. The Parur Jews have also the ruins 
of another synagogue marked by a Ner Tamid, which 
they say existed 400 years ago, when there were 
eighteen Bote Midrash (schools) and 500 Jewish houses. 
This tradition further confirms the importance of 
Cranganore before 1524. With the advent of the 
Dutch, better times ensued for the Jews. The Dutch 
were bitter foes of the Portuguese and their inquisition, 
and friends of their enemies. Naturally the Jews were 
on the side of the Dutch, and, as naturally, had to suffer 
for their temerity. In 1662 the Dutch attacked the 
Ranee's palace at Mattancheri and besieged the adjoin- 
ing town of Cochin, but had to retire before Portuguese 
reinforcements. The Portuguese therefore burnt the 
synagogue adjoining the palace, because they suspected 
the Jews, no doubt with justice, of having favoured the 
Dutch. In the following year, however, 'the Dutch 
renewed their attack on Cochin, this time with complete 
success. The port and town fell into their hands, and 
with it fell the Portuguese power in India. By a series 
of treaties, Cochin and Holland became close allies, and 
the Dutch settlement became firmly established in 
Cochin.' The Dutch helped the White Jews to rebuild 
their synagogue. The Dutch clock is still the pride of 
Cochin Jewry." 

It is well known that the Cochin Jews are generally 
divided into two classes, the White and the Black. 
Writing in the early part of the eighteenth century,* 
Baldseus states that " in and about the City of Cochin, 

* A Description of ye East India Coasts of Malabar and Coromandel, 1703. 

JEW 480 

lived formerly some Jews, who even now have a 
synagogue allow'd them without the Fortifications ; they 
are neither White nor Brown, but quite black. The 
Portuguese Histories mention that at a certain time 
certain blasphemous papers against our Saviour, with 
some severe reflections against the Jesuit Gonsalvus 
Pereira (who afterwards suffer'd Martyrdom at Monopa- 
tapa) being found in a box set in the Great Church for 
the gathering of Alms ; and the same being supposed 
to be laid there by some European Jews, who now and 
then used to resort thither privately, this gave occasion 
to introduce the Inquisition into Goa." It is noted by 
the Rev. J. H. Lord* that "Jacob Saphir, a Jewish 
traveller, who visited his co-religionists in Cochin in 
recent years, having described some of the Jews resident 
there as black, hastens to tone down his words, and 
adds, they are not black like the raven, or as the 
Nubians, but only as the appearance of copper. But 
Hagim Jacob Ha Cohen, another modern Jewish tra- 
veller, chastizing the latter for calling them black at all, 
declares that he will write of this class everywhere as 
the non-white, and never anywhere (God forbid !) as the 
Black." The Black Jews claim to have been the earliest 
settlers, while the White Jews came later. But the 
latter assert that the former are pure natives converted 
to the Jewish faith. These two difficult, yet important, 
issues of priority of settlement and purity of race have 
divided antiquarians and historians quite as much as 
they have estranged the two classes of Jews themselves 
from one another. According to the Rev. C. Buchanan,! 
the White Jews dwelling in Jews' town in Mattancheri 
are later settlers than the Black Jews. They had only 

* The Jews in India and the Far East, 1 907. 
f Christian Researches in India, 1840. 

48 1 JEW 

the Bible written on parchment, and of modern appear- 
ance, in their synagogue, but he managed to get from 
the Black Jews much older manuscripts written on 
parchment, goat's skin, and cotton paper. He says that 
" it is only necessary to look at their countenances to be 
satisfied that their ancestors must have arrived in India 
many years before the White Jews. Their Hindu com- 
plexion, and their very imperfect resemblance to the 
European Jews, indicate that they had been detached 
from the parent stocks in Judea many ages before the 
Jews in the West, and that there have been marriages 
with families not Israelitish." The Rev. J. Hough 
observes # that the Black Jews " appear so much like 
the natives of India, that it is difficult at first sight to 
distinguish them from the Hindu. By a little closer 
observation, however, the Jewish contour of their 
countenances cannot be mistaken." In the lecture 
already referred to, Dr. Wilson states that "their family 
names, such as David Castile (David the Castilian) go 
to prove that they (the White Jews) are descended of 
the Jews of Spain, probably of those driven from that 
country in the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, and of 
German and Egyptian Jews. The real ancient Jews of 
Cochin are the Black Jews' descendants, we believe, 
of Judea- Arabians and Indian proselytes. Some rather 
obscure references to the Jews of Cochin and Ouilon are 
made by Benjamin of Tudela, who returned to Spain 
from his eastern voyage in 1 1 73. He found no White 
Jews in India. Speaking of those in the pepper country 
near Chulam (Quilon), he says that all the cities and 
countries inhabited by these people contain only about 
100 Jews (members of the synagogue), who are of black 

* History of Christianity in India, I, 470-71, 1839. 
1 1-3 1 

JEW 482 

colour as well as the other inhabitants." Referring to 
Jan Linschoten's ' Itinerary,' published in Holland in 
1596, Mr. Adler observes that " the Jews who interested 
our traveller were the ' rich merchants and of the king 
of Cochin's nearest counsellers, who are most white of 
colour like men of Europe, and have many fair women. 
There are many of them that came of the country 
Palestine and Jerusalem thither, and spoke over all the 
exchange verie perfect and good Spanish.' This directly 
confirms the view that the White Jews were new comers 
from foreign lands. Their knowledge of Spanish is now 
quite a thing of the past, but it proves that they were 

In regard to the claim of the White Jews to being 
the only genuine Jews, it may be of interest to record 
the opinion of a Jew, Rabbi David D'Beth Hithel, who 
travelled in Cochin in 1832. He says that " the White 
Jews say of them (the Black Jews) that they are de- 
scendants of numerous slaves who were purchased and 
converted to Judaism, set free and carefully instructed 
by a rich White Jew some centuries ago. At his cost, 
they say, were all their old synagogues erected. The 
Black Jews believe themselves to be the descendants of 
the first captivity, who were brought to India, and did 
not return with the Israelites who built the second 
temple. This account I am inclined to believe correct. 
Though called Black Jews — they are of somewhat darker 
complexion than the White Jews — yet they are not of 
the colour of the natives of the country, or of persons 
descended from Indian slaves." This passage bears 
reference to a tradition current among the Black Jews 
that they are the descendants of the Jews who were 
driven out of the land of Israel thirteen years before the 
destruction of the first temple built by Solomon. They 

4^3 JEW 

are said to have first come to Calicut, whence they 
emigrated to Cranganur. 

" The White Jews," Mr. Adler writes, " claiming 
that they, and they alone, are the true descendants of 
the aboriginal Jews of Cranganur, retain the copper 
tablets in their possession, and boast that, about the 
beginning of the seventeenth century, the Rajah of 
Cochin invested the head of the Hallegua family with 
the hereditary title of Mudaliar or Noble [and a wand 
with a silver knob as a sign of his dignity], with the 
power of punishing certain crimes. The males of that 
family still bear the title, but their feudal rights have 
been abrogated. Nowadays the number of White Jews 
has dwindled to less than 200, so that it was easy 
to procure a list of all their names. From the foreign 
origin of their surnames (Kindel, Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, 
Koder, Roby, Sassoon), as well as for other reasons, it 
seems certain that the White Jews are late comers, who 
did not settle in India till after the destruction of 
Cranganur. They were traders, who came to Cochin ; 
they prospered under the rule of the Dutch, and built 
their synagogue and quarter after the Black Jews were 
already established there. Though, now, they hold 
themselves jealously aloof from the Black Jews, they 
were at first quite intimate and friendly. The Indian 
environment has had the opposite effect to that which 
England has had upon our Ashkenazim and our no 
longer exclusive Sephardim. In India caste is varna, 
which means colour, and their difference in colour has 
produced caste distinctions among the Indian Jews. 
But, although the White Jews are fair, some of them are 
certainly not quite white, nor are the Black Jews quite 
black. Some of the ' Black ' Jews are hardly distin- 
guishable from their ' White ' brethren. Their customs, 

JEW 484 

ritual, and religious observances are the same. Their 
synagogues are so alike that it needs some keenness 
of eyesight to detect that two pictures are not of the 
identical building. The only great (?) difference is 
that the White Jews have theirs tiled with rare old 
blue tiles, over which newspaper correspondents wax 
eloquent. They say the tiles are old Dutch, but really 
they are genuine Chinese [blue and white Canton 
China], * whereby hangs a tale. The synagogue was 
built nearly 200 years ago in a corner of the Rajah's 
palace-yard. At that time, the Dutch were in possession 
of what is now British Cochin, and they were the only 
people trading with China. The Rajah, through his 
allies the Dutch, had imported a large quantity of the 
best China tiles to pave his Darbar hall, but the Jews, 
says Mr. Thurston, thought they would just do for the 
synagogue they were building, so they told the Rajah 
that he could not possibly use them, inasmuch as 
bullock's blood had been employed in their manufacture. 
His Highness, much perturbed at the indignity to so 
sacred an animal, bade them take the tiles away, and 
never let him see them again. Hence their presence 
in the synagogue. The other synagogue has tiles also, 
but they are of gleaming white." The synagogues, it 
may be added, are square whitewashed buildings, sur- 
mounted by a bell-tower. It is said that the Kadya 
foagan synagogue of the Black Jews is admitted by the 
White Jews to be the oldest at present existing, having 
been built in the 12th century. 

It is recorded by Governor Moens that " in the Jewish 
quarters (situated) next to the palace of the king of 
Cochin at Cochin de Sima there are two synagogues, 

J. Splinter Stavorinus. Voyages to the East Indies, 1774-78. 

4^5 JEW 

viz., one for the White Jews, and the other for the 
Black Jews. The latter have readers of their own tribe, 
who hold the services, but, when a White Rabbi comes 
to their synagogue, the honour of conducting the service 
must be given to him." 

"The dates," the Rev. J. H. Lord writes, "of the 
synagogues of the Black Jews altogether antedate those 
of the White. Thus, the date on the mural slab of the 
now disused and dilapidated Cochin Angadi synagogue 
is A.D. 1344 = 563 years ago. That of the Kadavamba- 
gom synagogue in Cochin is A.D. 1639, or = 268 years 
ago. That of the Cochin Theckumbagom synagogue 
is A.D. 1586, or = 321 years ago ; while that of the syna- 
gogue of the White Jews is A.D. 1666 or = 241 years 
ago. Hence the institutions of the Black Jews are 
the more ancient. The tomb-stone dates of the Black 
Jews are also far more ancient than those of the 
White Jews. The earliest date of any tomb-stone of 
the Black Jews is six hundred years old." 

It is further noted by the Rev. J. H. Lord that " the 
Black Jews are still the ones who make use of the 
privileges granted in the copper-plate charter. They 
still carry a silk umbrella, and lamps lit at day-time, 
when proceeding to their synagogue on the 8th day after 
birth of sons. They spread a cloth on the ground, and 
place ornaments of leaves across the road on occasions 
when their brides and bridegrooms go to get married, 
and use then cadanans (mortars which are charged 
with gunpowder, and fired), and trumpets. After the 
wedding is over, four silk sunshades, each supported on 
four poles, are borne, with lamps burning in front, as 
the bridal party goes home. The Black Jews say that 
the White Jews use none of these, and never have done 
so. The White Jews averi'that they were accustomed 

JEW 486 

formerly to use such privileges, but have discontinued 

There is record of disputes between the White and 
Black Jews for as early a time as that of the Dutch 
settlement, or even earlier. Jealousy and strife between 
the two sections on matters of intermarriage and equal 
privileges seem to have existed even during the time of 
the Portuguese. Canter Visscher, in his ' Letters from 
Malabar,'* refers to these party feelings. " The blacks," 
he writes, " have a dark coloured Rabbi, who must 
stand back if a white one enters, and must resign to him 
the honour of performing the divine service in the 
synagogue. On the other hand, when the black Rabbis 
enter the synagogue of Whites, they must only be hearers. 
There has lately been a great dispute between the two 
races ; the Black wishing to compel the White Jewesses 
to keep their heads uncovered, like their own women, 
and trying to persuade the Rajah to enforce such a rule. 
The dispute ended, however, with permission given to 
every one, both men and women, to wear what they 

More than once, Jewish Rabbis have been appealed 
to on the subject of racial purity, and they have on all 
occasions upheld the claims of a section of the Black 
Jews to being Jews, and the White Jews have as often 
repudiated such decisions, and questioned their validity. 
The weight of authority, and the evidence of local facts, 
seem to militate against the contention of the White 
Jews that the Black Jews do not belong to the Israelitish 
community, but are the descendants of emancipated 
slaves and half castes. The White Jews appear to 
have maintained the purity of their race by declining 

* Edition by Major Heber Drury, 1862. Letter XVIII. 

4%7 JEW 

intermarriage with the Black Jews. It must be admitted 
that, in the earlier centuries, the original settlers pur- 
chased numerous slaves, who have since then followed the 
religion of their masters. It is recorded by Stavorinus* 
that "when these Jews purchase a slave, they immedi- 
ately manumit him ; they circumcise him and receive him 
as their fellow Israelite, and never treat him as a slave." 
It is noted by Canter Visscher f that "the Jews make no 
objection to selling their slaves who are not of their own 
religion to other nations, obliging them, however, when 
sold, to abandon the use of the Jewish cap, which they had 
before worn on their heads. But slaves, male or female, 
once fully admitted into their religion by the performance 
of the customary rites, can never be sold to a stranger." 
The Jews are said to have had former fugitive connec- 
tions with the women of these converts, and brought 
into existence a mixed race of Dravidians and Semitics. 
It would be uncharitable to infer from this that all the 
Black Jews are the descendants of converted slaves or 
half-castes, as it would be unreasonable to suppose that 
all of them are the descendants of the original settlers. 
It is noted by Mr. Adler that "the Rev. J. H. Lord 
quotes an interesting pronouncement on the racial purity 
of the Black Jews of Malabar made by Haham Bashi of 
Jerusalem in 1892. The Rabbi is said to have referred 
to the Maharikash (R. Jacob Castro, of Alexandria), 
whose responsum in 1610 confirmed the ' Jichus' or the 
' Mejuchasim ' and decided likewise. He is even said to 
have allowed one of his relatives to marry a Brown Jew ! 
Nowadays, the White Jews hold aloof from the larger 
community, black or brown, and profess to be of another 
caste altogether. But one of the most intelligent of 

* Op. cit. t L° c * cit > 


JEW 488 

their number, who took us round the synagogues, pro- 
fessed to think such exclusiveness exaggerated and 
unfair, and admitted that their own grandfathers had 
lived with Black Jewesses in a more or less binding 
marital relation, and it is abundantly clear that, till 
recently, the Black and White Jews were quite friendly, 
and the very fact of the White Jews holding the title- 
deeds merely proves that they were trusted by the true 
owners to keep them for safe custody, as they were richer 
and possessed safes. In an article in the ' Revue des 
Deux Mondes,' # Pierre Loti, writing of the Black Jews, 
says that " le rabbin me fait d'ameres doleances sur la 
fierte des rivaux de la rue proche, qui ne veulent jamais 
consentir a contracter marriage, ni m£me a frayer avec 
ses paroissiens. Et, pour comble, me dit-il, le grand 
rabbin de Jerusalem, a qui on avait adresse une plainte 
collective, le priant d'intervenir, s'est contente d emettre, 
en reponse, cette general ite plutot offensante : Pour 
nicher ensemble, il faut etre des moineaux de meme 

In recent years, a distinction appears to have grown 
up among the Black Jews, so that they now want to be 
distinguished as Brown Jews and Black Jews, the former 
claiming to be Meyookhasim or genuine Jews. In this 
connection, Mr. Adler writes that " the Black Jews are 
themselves divided into two classes, the Black Jews 
proper, who are darker, and have no surnames, and the 
noble, who have family names and legitimate descent, 
and claim to be the true descendants of the Cranganur 
or Singili Jews." 

The White Jews are generally known by the name 
of Paradesis (foreigners). This designation is found in 

* July, 1902. 

4^9 JEW 

some of the Sirkar (State) accounts, and also in a few 
Theetoorams or Royal writs granted to them. It is 
argued that they must have been so called at first to 
distinguish them from the more ancient Israelites. The 
existence for centuries of three small colonies of Black 
Jews at Chennamangalam and Mala in the Cochin 
State, and Parur in Travancore, at a distance of five 
or six miles from Cranganur, shows that they must 
have sought refuge in those places on being hard 
pressed by the Moors and the Portuguese. There are 
no White Jews in any of these stations, nor can they 
point to any vested interests in the tracts about 
Cranganur, the most ancient Jewish settlement in the 

The Jews wear a long tunic of rich colour, a waist- 
coat buttoned up to the neck, and full white trousers. 
They go about wearing a skull cap, and put on a turban 
when they go to the synagogue. The Black Jews dress 
more or less like the native Mahomedans. Many of 
them put on shirts, and have skull caps like the Jonaka 
Mappilas. They generally wear coloured cloths. The 
Jews invariably use wooden sandals. These, and their 
locks brought down in front of the ears, distinguish them 
from other sections of the population. The Jewesses 
always wear coloured cloths. Hebrew is still the 
liturgical language, and is studied as a classic by a few, 
but the home language is Malayalam. The White Jews 
celebrate their marriages on Sundays, but the Black Jews 
still retain the ancient custom of celebrating them on 
Tuesdays after sunset. Though polygamy is not pro- 
hibited, monogamy is the rule. The males generally 
marry at the age of 20, while the marriageable age for 
girls is 14 or 15. Marriages are generally celebrated on 
a grand scale. The festivities continue for seven days 
n-33 B 

JEW 490 

in the case of the White Jews, and for fifteen days among 
the Black Jews, who still make use of some of the ancient 
privileges granted by the charter of Cheraman Perumal. 
The Jews of all sections have adopted a few Hindu 
customs. Thus, before going to the synagogue for 
marriage, a tali (marriage badge) is tied round the bride's 
neck by some near female relative of the bridegroom 
(generally his sister) in imitation of the Hindu custom, 
amidst the joyful shouts (kurava) of women. Divorce 
is not effected by a civil tribunal. Marriages are 
dissolved by the making good the amount mentioned in 
the kethuba or marriage document. In regard to their 
funerals, the corpse is washed, but not anointed, and is 
deposited in the burial-ground, which is called Beth 
Haim, the house of the living. 

Like their brethren in other parts of the world, the 
Cochin Jews observe the Sabbath feasts and fasts 
blended intimately with their religion, and practice the 
rite of circumcision on the eighth day, when the child 
is also named. The Passover is celebrated by the 
distribution of unleavened bread, but no kid is killed, nor 
is blood sprinkled upon the door-post and lintel. The 
other feasts are the feast of Pentecost, feast of Trumpets, 
and feast of Tabernacles. The day of atonement, and 
the anniversary of the destruction of Jerusalem, are 
observed as fasts. On the day of atonement, the Jews 
pray in the synagogue from 5 a.m. till 7 p.m. The Jewish 
fasts commence from 5 p.m. on the day previous to the 
fast, and end at 7 p.m. next day. Their days begin and 
end with sunset. The feast of Tabernacles is observed 
with more pomp and ceremony than other feasts. A 
pandal, or temporary shed, with a flat roof, covered over 
with plaited leaves of the cocoanut palm, and decorated 
with festoons, is put up in the court-yard of, or near 

491 JEW 

every house, beneath which the inmates of the house 
assemble and take their meals. On the last day of the 
feast, a large can filled with oil is lit up in front of the 
synagogue. On that day, the congregation assembles 
in the synagogue. Persons of both sexes and of all ages 
meet in the house of prayer, which is gorgeously 
decorated for the occasion. On this day, when the 
books are taken outside the synagogue by the male 
congregation, the females, who are seated in the gallery, 
come into the synagogue, and, when the books are taken 
back, they return to their gallery. 

The genuine Jews are, as indicated, known as 
M'yukhasim (those of lineage or aristocracy), while 
converts from the low castes are called non-M'yukhasim. 
According to the opinion of Jewish Rabbis, Tabila, or 
the holy Rabbinical bath, removes the social disabilities 
of the latter. Those who have had recourse to this bath 
are free to marry genuine Jews, but respect for caste, or 
racial prejudice, has invariably stood in the way of such 
marriages being contracted. 

From a recent note (1907), I gather that " the Jews, 
realising that higher and more advanced education is 
needed, have bestirred themselves, and are earnestly 
endeavouring to establish an institution which will bring 
their education up to the lower secondary standard. 
The proposed school will be open to both the White and 
Black Jews. In order to place the school on a good 
financial basis, one of the leading Jews, Mr. S. Koder, 
approached the Anglo-Jewish Association for aid, and 
that Society has readily agreed to provide a sum of ^150 
a year for the upkeep of the school. Generous, however, 
as this offer is, it is found that the amount is insufficient 
to cover the expenditure ; so the Jews are going to raise 
a public subscription amongst themselves, and they also 


intend to apply to the Cochin Darbar for a grant under 
the Educational Code."* 

I was present at the Convocation of the Madras 
University in 1903, when the Chancellor conferred the 
degree of Bachelor of Arts on the first Jew who had 
passed the examination. 

According to the Cochin Census, 1901, there were 
180 White, and 957 Black Jews. 

Jhodia.— A sub-division of Poroja. 

Jhoria.— A sub-division of Gaudo. 

Jilaga (pith). — An exogamous sept of Devanga. 

Jilakara (cumin seeds : Cuminum cyminuni). An 
exogamous sept of Balija and Togata. 

Jinigar. — "There are," Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,! 
"a few members of this caste, chiefly in the Chendragiri 
taluk, whose ordinary occupation it now is to paint 
pictures. They were, however, once, it is said, artificers, 
and the account given of them is as follows. They were 
originally Razus from the Northern Circars, who, coming 
to the Chendragiri Raja for employment, were set to 
watch members of the Kammala caste who served the 
Raja, in order to prevent idleness or fraud. After some 
time, the Kammalans finished an idol's car, and, being 
inflated with pride, demanded to be allowed to sit in it 
before the swami was himself placed there. For their 
arrogance they were expelled, and the Razus, having by 
observation learnt something of their craft, discharged 
their duties to the community. Under the Nabobs they 
abandoned this walk of life, and took to saddlery, whence 
came their name from jini a saddle, and now they are 
merely muchis." 

* Madras Mail, 1907. t Manual of the North Arcot district. 


Mr. W. Francis informs us * that " in Bellary wood- 
carving is done by Jinigaras, who have taught the art to 
some Muhammadans, who are now often more skilful 
than their teachers. Two of them made a teak doorway, 
carved in the Chalukyan style, which obtained a medal 
at the Arts Exhibition at the Delhi Darbar, and is now 
in the Madras Museum." 

At Nandyal in the Kurnool district, I recently saw a 
Jinigar, who makes " lacquer " (gesso) fans, trays, large 
circular table tops, etc., and paintings of Hindu deities 
and mythological subjects. He made a number of 
panels used in the dado of Lady Curzon's boudoir at 
the circuit house, Delhi. A medal was awarded to him 
for his gesso ware at the Delhi Exhibition, but it was, 
in colouring, inferior to that of the collection which 
was sent to the Indo-Colonial Exhibition in 1886. The 
" lacquer " ware of Kurnool has been said to be perhaps 
the finest Indian gesso work produced anywhere. The 
work turned out at Mandasa in Ganjam is much bolder, 
and suitable for decoration on a large scale. A similar 
method of decoration was formerly largely used in 
Saracenic architectural decoration of interiors in various 
countries. The patterns of the Kurnool ware are floral, 
and in slight relief, and the colours are very bright with 
much gilding. At Nossam, in Ganjam, leather dish- 
mats are painted with pictures of deities and floral 
designs. Native circular playing-cards, and fans made 
of palmyra leaves or paper and cloth " lacquered " and 
painted in brilliant colours, are also made here. 

In the Nellore district, the Jiniga-vandlu make 
toys, pictures, and models in paper and pith. At 
Trichinopoly, very elaborate and accurate models of the 

* Gazetteer of the Bellary district. 

JINKA 494 

great Hindu temples, artificial flowers, bullock coaches, 
etc., are made of the pith of sola {Alschynomene asperd), 
which is also used in the construction of sola topis 
(sun-hats). The Madras Museum possesses a very 
quaint pith model of the Raja of Tanjore in darbar, 
with performing wrestlers and Deva-dasis, made many 
years ago. 

Jinka.— (Indian gazelle, Gazella bennetti). — An ex- 
ogamous sept of Padma Sale. The equivalent Jinkala 
is a sept of Boya. 

Jira. — In the Bellary district, a Lingayat who sells 
flowers calls himself a Jira, and his caste Jira kula. 

Jirige (cumin : Cuminum cyminuni). — An exogamous 
sept of Kuruba, and gotra of Kurni. 

Jivala (an insect). — An exogamous sept of Kuruba. 

Jogi.— The Jogis, who are a caste of Telugu mendi- 
cants, are summed up by Mr. H. A. Stuart* as being 
" like the Dasaris, itinerant jugglers and beggars. 
They are divided into those who sell beads, and those 
who keep pigs. They are dexterous snake-charmers, 
and pretend to a profound knowledge of charms and 
medicine. They are very filthy in their habits. They 
have no restrictions regarding food, may eat in the 
house of any Sudra, and allow widows to live in con- 
cubinage, only exacting a small money penalty, and 
prohibiting her from washing herself with turmeric- 
water." In addition to begging and pig-breeding, the 
Jogis are employed in the cultivation of land, in the 
destruction of pariah dogs, scavenging, robbery and 
dacoity. Some of the women, called Killekyata, are 
professional tattooers. The Jogis wander about the 
country, taking with them (sometimes on donkeys) the 

* Manual of the North Arcot district. 


495 JOGI 

materials for their rude huts. The packs of the donkeys 
are, Mr. F. S. Mullaly informs us,* " used as receptacles 
for storing cloths obtained in predatory excursions. 
Jogis encamp on the outskirts of villages, usually on a 
plain or dry bed of a tank. Their huts or gudisays are 
made of palmyra leaves (or sedge) plaited with five 
strands forming an arch." The huts are completely 
open in front. 

In the Tamil country, the Jogis are called Dhoddiyan 
or Tottiyan {q.v.) } and those who are employed as 
scavengers are known as Koravas or Oddans. The 
scavengers do not mix with the rest of the community. 
Some Jogis assert that they have to live by begging in 
consequence of a curse brought on them by Parvati, 
concerning whose breasts one of their ancestors made 
some indiscreet remarks. They consider themselves 
superior to Malas and Madigas, but an Oddan (navvy 
caste) will not eat in the house of a Jogi. They are 
said to eat crocodiles, field rats, and cats. There is a 
tradition that a Jogi bridegroom, before tying the bottu 
(marriage badge) on his bride's neck, had to tie it by 
means of a string dyed with turmeric round the neck of 
a female cat. People sometimes object to the catching 
of cats by Jogis for food, as the detachment of a single 
hair from the body of a cat is considered a heinous 
offence. To overcome the objection, the Jogi says that 
he wants the animal for a marriage ceremony. On one 
occasion, I saw a Madiga carrying home a bag full of 
kittens, which, he said, he was going to eat. 

The Jogi mendicants go about, clad in a dirty loin- 
cloth (often red in colour) and a strip of cloth over the 
shoulders, with cobras, pythons, or rat snakes in baskets, 

* Notes on Criminal Glasses of the Madras Presidency. 

JOGI 496 

and carrying a bag slung over the shoulder. The 
contents of one of these bags, which was examined, 
were fruits of Mimusops hexandra and flower-spikes of 
Lippia nodiflora (used for medicine), a snake-charming 
reed instrument, a piece of cuttle-fish shell, porcupine 
quills (sold to goldsmiths for brushes), a cocoanut shell 
containing a powder, narrikombu (spurious jackals' horns) 
such as are also manufactured by Kuruvikarans, and 
two pieces of wood supposed to be an antidote for snake- 
poisoning. The women go about the streets, decorated 
with bangles and necklaces of beads, sharks' vertebrae, 
and cowry shells, bawling out " Subbamma, Lach- 
chamma," etc, and will not move on till alms are given 
to them. They carry a capacious gourd, which serves 
as a convenient receptacle for stolen articles. 

Like other Telugu castes, the Jogis have exoga- 
mous septs or intiperu, of which the following are 
examples : — 

Vagiti, court-yard. 
Uluvala, horse-gram. 
Jalli, tassels of palmyra leaves 
put round the necks of bulls. 
Vavati (relationship). 
Gundra, round. 

Bindhollu, brass water-pot. 
Cheruku, sugar-cane. 
Chappadi, insipid. 
Boda Dasiri, bald-headed men- 
Gudi, temple. 

At the Mysore census, 1901, Killekyata, Helava, 
Jangaliga, and Pakanati were returned as being Jogis. 
A few individuals returned gotras, such as Vrishabha, 
Kaverimatha, and Khedrumakula. At the Madras 
census, Siddaru, and Pamula (snake) were returned as 
sub-castes. Pamula is applied as a synonym for Jogi, 
inasmuch as snake-charming is one of their occupations. 

The women of the caste are said to be depraved, 
and prostitution is common. As a proof of chastity, the 
ordeal of drinking a potful of cow-dung water or chilly- 
water has to be undergone. If a man, proved guilty of 

497 JOGI 

adultery, pleads inability to pay the fine, he has to walk 
a furlong with a mill-stone on his head. 

At the betrothal ceremony, a small sum of money 
and a pig are given to the bride's party. The pig is 
killed, and a feast held, with much consumption of 
liquor. Some of the features of the marriage ceremony 
are worthy of notice. The kankanams, or threads which 
are tied by the maternal uncles to the wrists of the 
bride and bridegroom, are made of human hair, and to 
them are attached leaves of Alangium lamarckii and 
Strychnos Nux-vomica. When the bridegroom and his 
party proceed to the bride's hut for the ceremony of 
tying the bottu (marriage badge), they are stopped by 
a rope or bamboo screen, which is held by the relations 
of the bride and others. After a short struggle, money 
is paid to the men who hold the rope or screen, and the 
ceremonial is proceeded with. The rope is called 
vallepu thadu or relationship rope, and is made to imply 
legitimate connection. The bottu, consisting of a string 
of black beads, is tied round the bride's neck, the bride 
and bridegroom sometimes sitting on a pestle and 
mortar. Rice is thrown over them, and they are carried 
on the shoulders of their maternal uncles beneath 
the marriage pandal (booth). As with the Oddes and 
Upparavas, there is a saying that a Jogi widow may 
mount the marriage dais {i.e., remarry) seven times. 

When a girl reaches puberty, she is put in a hut 
made by her brother or husband, which is thatched 
with twigs of Eugenia Jambolana, margosa (Melia 
Azadirachta), mango {Mangifera Indica), and Vitex 
Negundo. On the last day of the pollution ceremony ) 
the girl's clothes and the hut are burnt. 

The dead are always buried. The corpse is carried 
to the burial-place, wrapped up in a cloth. Before it is 

JOGI 498 

lowered into the grave, all present throw rice over the 
eyes, and a man of a different sept to the deceased 
places four annas in the mouth. Within the grave the 
head is turned on one side, and a cavity scooped out, in 
which various articles of food are placed. Though the 
body is not burnt, fire is carried to the grave by the 
son. Among the Jalli-vallu, a chicken and small 
quantity of salt are placed in the armpit of the corpse. 
On the karmandhiram, or day of the final death 
ceremonies, cooked rice, vegetables, fruit, and arrack 
are offered to the deceased. A cloth is spread near 
the grave, and the son, and other agnates, place food 
thereon, while naming, one after the other, their deceased 
ancestors. The food is eaten by Jogis of septs other 
than the Jalli-vallu, who throw it into water. If septs 
other than the J alii were to do this, they would be fined. 
Those assembled proceed to a tank or river, and make 
an effigy in mud, by the side of which an earthen lamp 
is placed. After the offering of cooked rice, etc., the 
lamp and effigy are thrown into the water. A man who 
is celebrating his wife's death-rites then has his waist- 
thread cut by another widower while bathing. 

The Jogis worship Peddavadu, Malalamma, Gang- 
amma, Ayyavaru, Rudramma, and Madura Virudu. 

Some women wear, in addition to the marriage bottu, 
a special bottu in honour of one of their gods. This is 
placed before the god and worn by the eldest female of 
a family, passing on at her death to the next eldest. 

As regards the criminal propensities of the Jogis, 
Mr. Mullaly writes as follows.* " On an excursion 
being agreed upon by members of a Joghi gang, others 
of the fraternity encamped in the vicinity are consulted. 

* Op, cit. 


In some isolated spot a rum tree (Melia Azadirachta) is 
chosen as a meeting place. Here the preliminaries are 
settled, and their god Perumal is invoked. They set 
out in bands of from twelve to fifteen, armed with stout 
bamboo sticks. Scantily clad, and with their heads 
muffled up, they await the arrival of the carts passing 
their place of hiding. In twos and threes they attack 
the carts, which are usually driven off the road, and not 
unfrequently upset, and the travellers are made to give 
all they possess. The property is then given to the 
headman of the gang for safe-keeping, and he secretes 
it in the vicinity of his hut, and sets about the disposal 
of it. Their receivers are to be found among the 
1 respectable ' oil-mongers of 1 1 villages in the vicinity 
of their encampments, while property not disposed of 
locally is taken to Madras. Readmission to caste 
after conviction, when imprisonment is involved, is an 
easy matter. A feed and drink at the expense of the 
' unfortunate,' generally defrayed from the share of 
property which is kept by his more fortunate kinsfolk, 
are all that is necessary, except the ceremony common 
to other classes of having the tongue slightly burnt by 
a piece of hot gold. This is always performed by the 
Jangam (headman) of the gang. The boys of the class 
are employed by their elders in stealing grain stored at 
kalams (threshing-floors), and, as opportunity offers, 
by slitting grain bags loaded in carts." 

Jogi. — A sub-division of Kudubi. 

Jogi Gurukkal. — See Yogi Gurukkal. 

Jogi Purusha.— The Purushas or Jogi Purushas 
seem to have come into existence in recent times, and 
to be divided into two distinct classes, one of which has 
crystallised into a caste, while the other merely follows 
a cult practiced by several other castes. Those in South 

jOgi purusha 500 

Canara, who speak Marathi and Tulu, say that they 
form a caste, which will not admit members of other 
castes into its ranks. There is a head mutt (religious 
institution) at Kadiri, with subordinate mutts at Halori 
and Bhuvarasu, all in South Canara. The Jogi Purushas 
are disciples of one or other of these mutts. Their 
special deity is Bairava, but some regard Gorakshanath 
as their god. They are initiated into the Bairava cult 
by their priest. They may lead either a celibate or 
married life. The celibates should have a hole bored 
in the middle of the ear, and wear therein a ring of 
rhinoceros horn or china-clay. Those who wish to lead 
a married life need not have a hole in the ear, but, at 
the time of their initiation, a piece of clay is pressed over 
the spot where the hole should be. All J5gi Purushas 
who have become the disciples of a guru (spiritual 
instructor) of their cult ought to have a brass, copper, 
or silver pipe, called singanatha, tied on a thread round 
the neck. Before taking their meals, they are expected 
to pray to Bairava, and blow the pipe. 

The Jogi Purushas follow the Makkalakattu system 
of inheritance (in the male line), and, for their marriage 
ceremonies, engage a Karadi Brahman. The dead are 
buried in a sitting posture. The bojja, or final death 
ceremony, is usually performed on the twelfth day, and 
a Brahman priest officiates thereat. The ceremony 
consists in offering food to the crows, making presents 
to Brahmans, and undergoing purificatory rites for the 
removal of death pollution. If the deceased has been 
initiated into the Bairava cult, puja (worship) must be 
done at the grave every alternate day from the third day 
till the bojja day. 

Some Jogi Purushas are professional mendicants, 
while others work as coolies, peons, etc. 

501 JUNGU 

Jonagan. — Jonagan is given, in the Madras Census 
Report, 1901, as the name applied to " Musalman 
traders of partly Hindu parentage. The word is from 
the Tamil Sonagan, which means Arabia, and is not 
strictly the name of any Musalman tribe, but is a loose 
term applied by the Tamils to Musalmans of mixed 
descent." In the Gazetteer of South Arcot, Mr. Francis 
says that " the term Jonagan or Sonagan, meaning a 
native of Sonagan or Arabia, is applied by Hindus to 
both Labbais and Marakkayars, but it is usually held to 
have a contemptuous flavour." According to another 
version, Jonagan is applied to sea-fishermen and boat- 
men, and the more prosperous traders are called 
Marakkayars. In a note on the Mappillas of Malabar, 
Mr. Padmanabha Menon writes that " the Muham- 
madans generally go by the name of Jonaga Mappillas. 
Jonaka is believed to stand for Yavanaka, i.e., Greek." 

Joti (light). — An exogamous sept of Boya. 

Jotinagara. — Jotinagara (people of the city of light) 
and Jotipana are high sounding synonyms of the 
Canarese oil-pressing Ganigas, who express illuminant 
oils from seeds. In like manner, the Tamil oil-pressing 
Vaniyans are known as Jotinagarattar and Tiru-vilakku 
Nagarattar (dwellers in the city of holy lamps). 

Juda Mappilla. — A name by which the Cochin 
Jews are known. 

Julaha.— A few members of this Muhammadan class 
of weavers have been returned at times of census. 

Jungu (cock's-comb). — A gotra of Kurni. 

Frinted by The Superintendent, 

Government Press, 




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